Lawmaker Horrified By Consequences Of Abortion Ban Votes For Even Stricter One

A South Carolina legislator who said earlier this month he had lost sleep over the consequences of a six-week abortion ban he supported just inexplicably voted to enact an even stricter one.

Rep. Neal Collins (R), who recently made national headlines when he told his colleagues he didn’t sleep for a week when he learned that a six-week ban he’d helped pass last year could lead to the deaths of miscarrying patients, voted Tuesday night to pass an even stricter abortion ban that outlaws the procedure in nearly all instances at every stage of pregnancy.

In a lengthy Facebook post after the bill passed in the House, Collins said he ultimately decided to support the new bill because it carried an amendment giving patients 12 weeks to terminate pregnancies resulting from rape or incest if a doctor reports the incidents to law enforcement.

“I knew, at the end, no one would cheer a nuanced position,” he wrote. “I fully understand the comments are about to be all negative. … With that, I’m now humbly your punching bag.”

Collins voted for the bill despite the regret he expressed earlier this month about the six-week abortion ban, which went into effect earlier this year. After it passed, he said, a doctor confronted him with the case of a teenager whose water broke at 15 weeks of pregnancy, destroying fetal viability and putting her life and health at risk ― a situation that, in theory, would allow her to terminate the pregnancy under South Carolina’s law. But because the fetus still had a heartbeat, the hospital determined it couldn’t legally provide her an abortion and sent her home.

“There’s a 50% chance — greater than 50% chance — that she’s going to lose her uterus. There’s a 10% chance that she will develop sepsis and herself die,” Collins said of the situation earlier this month.

That type of ordeal, medical experts and activists have long warned, perfectly encapsulates the problem with using life-saving exceptions to justify abortion bans, and it further reinforces the need for patients and their doctors to make their own reproductive health decisions without legislative interference.

Collins, despite the concerns he admitted earlier this month, doesn’t even sound so sure that the new bill he voted to pass won’t present the same risks to women’s lives and well-being.

“I hope that we cleared as many unintended consequences as we could,” he told PBS Newshour on Wednesday when pressed to say if he’s absolutely sure this law won’t harm women’s lives.

“This is a process,” he continued. “It now goes to a whole separate chamber ― our Senate. Hopefully they will digest the language that we have. They have something to work with. Hopefully they will have medical expert testimony. I know that they already have. I hope that we are able to clear as many possibilities as we can.”

The 12-week rape and incest exception, which Collins cited as the push he needed to vote in favor of the ban, is also extremely limiting. Young, preteen girls are capable of getting pregnant but very likely may not know the signs of pregnancy before the 12-week mark ― especially in states like South Carolina that don’t require schools to teach comprehensive sex education and force teachers to encourage abstinence when they do. They also may wait longer than 12 weeks to pursue abortion care due to the shame, stigma and trauma following rape or incest.

The South Carolina bill has one more procedural vote in the House before it goes on to seek approval in the Senate.

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