The Statehouse House Ad Hoc Committee on abortion went over its recommendations, which include a near-total ban on abortion without exceptions for rape or incest, on July 19. Abortion would only be allowed to save the life of the mother.
The panel, made up of eight Republicans and four Democrats, voted 9-3 for the recommended changes to the state's law. The recommendations are being sent to the House Judiciary Committee where the recommendations could change further.
Outside the building where the first public hearing was held July 7, hundreds of abortion-rights and anti-abortion activists gathered to show support for their cause.
Annie Wirth, who is against abortion, wore a black t-shirt with white lettering that read "EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL HUMANS" and held a cardboard sign with a picture of handcuffs and the message "CRIMINALIZE ABORTION." She stood in stark contrast to the hundreds of abortion-rights activists on the steps of the Statehouse.
"'I'm here to speak for the babies. To proclaim that we need to criminalize abortion not just regulate it," Wirth said. "Even if we do an all-out ban, but it doesn't criminalize it, babies will still be murdered in South Carolina because they can then just go across the state and have the babies murdered."
Wirth said she supports criminalizing anyone involved in an abortion, whether it be the pregnant person, the physician providing the abortion or someone driving the pregnant person to an abortion clinic.
The Committee recommended not criminalizing people who get abortions but did recommend criminal penalties for people who perform illegal abortions. Abortion providers could receive a fine and up to two years in prison for performing the procedure.
Wirth said she did not think South Carolina lawmakers would listen to her call to criminalize abortion. She said there is too much money on both sides for even an all-out ban on abortion and that lawmakers will stay with the current six-week ban on abortion.
"Sadly, most conservatives, most Republicans, most pro-life people are content with the heartbeat bill six-week ban," Wirth said.
Many people testified at the hearing, some for abortion and some against abortion. Many of those who were anti-abortion quoted scripture from the Bible.
USC religious studies associate professor, Erin Roberts, who teaches the course "Introduction to Early Christianity," said the Bible has many different kinds of interpretations, none of which specifically endorse or condemn abortion.
"The Bible really doesn't talk about (abortion)," Roberts said. "If anything ... it gives warrant for (abortion) — there are moments in the Bible when children are killed and it's not necessarily spoken ill of."
Jessica Waldrop was among the crowd of abortion-rights activists gathered around the Statehouse steps at a Planned Parenthood event.
"I'm just here because I'm worried about my rights and my daughters," Waldrop said as she wiped away tears.
Waldrop said she had her doubts that lawmakers would listen to the abortion-rights speakers who testified at the hearing. She said she did not feel like she was being heard by her lawmakers.
"I know I've tried to call my representative. He hadn't even called me back," Waldrop said. "I know that most of them just kind of have on their mind what they're gonna do. They're gonna follow the party line."
Chris Smith was another anti-abortion activist standing outside the Blatt Building. Smith stood next to a man holding an American flag. He said he was there to stand for the life of everyone in the state, including the unborn.
"Being a Christian, and biblically speaking, I believe that life begins at conception," Smith said. "We are not going to use abortion in this state any longer as a form of birth control."
A similar plan to take input from the public is being drafted by the Senate and the chamber is expected to consider the bill if it passes the House.