A man supporting restrictions on abortion holds a sign as abortion-rights supporters hold signs behind him outside the South Carolina Statehouse on Thursday, July 7, 2022, in Columbia, S.C.

State Rep. Neal Collins held back tears Tuesday over the impact of an abortion ban he voted for.
The South Carolina Republican said a 19-year-old’s abortion was delayed even though the fetus was unviable.
He said he opposed a proposed bill that would ban nearly all abortions in the state.

A Republican lawmaker in South Carolina held back tears on Tuesday as he described learning about a teenager who was at risk of losing her uterus or even dying due to an abortion ban he previously voted for, video showed.

State Rep. Neal Collins shared the story with the state’s House Judiciary Committee as they discussed a proposed near-total abortion ban that would not include exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

Collins said he voted in favor of South Carolina’s “heartbeat bill,” which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected and went into effect in June after the reversal of Roe v. Wade. He said two weeks after it took effect, he received a call from a doctor.

“A 19-year-old girl appeared at the ER. She was 15 weeks pregnant. Her water broke. The fetus was unviable,” Collins explained. The doctor said the standard of care was to advise her to go home or to extract the fetus.

“The attorneys told the doctors that because of the fetal heartbeat bill, because that 15-week-old had a heartbeat, the doctors could not extract,” he said, adding they could have admitted the teen until the heartbeat stopped, but there was no way of knowing how long that would take, so she was discharged.

South Carolina’s heartbeat bill does have exceptions for rape, incest, fetal anomalies, and threats to the mother’s health, but such health exceptions have left doctors in risky legal territory.

The doctor told Collins that the woman would likely pass the fetus in the toilet and that “she’s going to have to deal with that on her own.” The doctor also said there was a 50% chance the teen would lose her uterus and a 10% chance she would develop sepsis and die.

“That weighs on me. I voted for that bill. These are affecting people,” he began, adding as he appeared to get choked up: “That whole week I did not sleep.”

He said he continued to follow up with the doctor and learned the teen was able to come in two weeks later and because the heartbeat had stopped they were able to extract the fetus.

“What we do matters,” Collins said as he again appeared to hold back tears. He said he would not vote on the near total ban that was being considered until there were significant changes to the bill.

Despite Collins’ objections, the bill made it out of the committee in a 13-7 vote, The Associated Press reported. It now heads to the state House floor, where it likely faces a major legislative battle.

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