South Carolina approves six-week abortion ban for most women.

Legislators in the US state of South Carolina have passed a bill that would ban nearly all abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy - before most women know they are pregnant.

The bill is expected to be signed into law by the state's Republican governor, Henry McMaster.

But it will now face legal challenges.

The majority of southern US states have curtailed abortion rights since the Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to abortion last year.

The vote in South Carolina passed mostly along party lines but was opposed by the three Republican women in the state's Senate.

Vicki Ringer, the director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said her organisation would file a request for a temporary restraining order after the bill is signed by Mr McMaster.

The bill, known as the "Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act", would ban abortions in most cases after early cardiac activity can be detected in a foetus or embryo - normally about six weeks into a pregnancy.

It allows for terminations up to 12 weeks in cases of rape and incest, and provides an exception for medical emergencies.

Abortions are currently allowed through the first 22 weeks of pregnancy in the state.

The bill is a revision of an earlier measure that South Carolina's Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional in January.

Following Tuesday's vote, Mr McMaster tweeted that with the passing of the bill, "our state is one step closer to protecting more innocent lives".

"I look forward to signing this bill into law as soon as possible," he said.

Republicans in the state Senate had tried multiple times to pass the bill but had been blocked by a cross-party group of five women, including the three from their own party.

South Carolina had been seen as a last legal bastion for women in the South seeking abortion but recent efforts to tighten restrictions has put increasing pressure on the state of Virginia.

Last week Republican lawmakers in North Carolina voted to uphold a ban on most abortions after 12 weeks.

Source: www.bbc.com


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