The South Carolina legislature has passed a bill banning abortions after 19 weeks.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed the South Carolina House of Representatives 79 to 29 Tuesday.
The ban includes exceptions if the mother’s life is in jeopardy or the fetus will not be able to survive outside the womb.
The bill now heads to Gov. Nikki Haley for approval. She’s told the Associated Press she will almost certainly sign the bill. CNN is trying to reach her office for comment.
The bill’s supporters contend that fetuses can feel pain by 20 weeks, which is debated in the medical community. A 2005 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that “fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.”
12 states have similar laws
Sixteen other states have moved to ban abortions after 19 weeks, according to the research organization the Guttmacher Institute, but court challenges have blocked Arizona, Georgia and Idaho from enacting the laws. A law in South Dakota will take effect July 1,
The 12 states that have similar laws are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
In March, Utah approved a law that requires doctors to provide anesthesia to women having abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later. Experts say the law is the first of its kind in the nation.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar bill last year, but the bill was blocked by Senate Democrats in September.