US & Canada

South Carolina passes law banning abortion after 20 weeks

Nikki Haley Image copyright AP
Image caption Ms Haley has said she is pro-life because her husband was adopted

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has signed into law a bill that bans most abortions after 20 weeks.

Similar restrictions are now in place across the US in 13 states and challenged by courts in three states.

The law's only exceptions are if the mother's life is in danger or a doctor says the foetus could not survive outside the womb. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

Doctors who break the law could be jailed for performing abortions.

Abortion is legal in the US but states are permitted to restrict the procedure.

The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on bans that limit abortions.

The director of maternal-foetal medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina urged Ms Haley to veto the bill, according to the Charleston Post and Courier newspaper.

He said he was "disappointed" in the outcome.

Only three outpatient clinics are licensed to perform abortions in the southern US state.

Doctors will face up to $10,000 (£6,800) in fines for violating the law with prison time mandatory for a third conviction.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption States have aggressively sought to restrict abortions in recent years

Supporters of the bill have said that a foetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, but that has been disputed by abortion rights activists.

Opponents of the South Carolina law say later-term abortions usually happen because of medical complications, not because of an unwanted pregnancy.

Last week, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin vetoed legislation to outlaw abortion at any stage, saying she knew it would fail a legal challenge.

"I'm strongly pro-life, very pro-life and not because my party tells me to be, but my husband was adopted, and so every day I know the blessings of having him there," Ms Haley said during her 2010 campaign for governor.

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