News Articles

POLICY DIGEST: S.C. enacts abortion ban; Texas rejects 10 Commandments in schools

South Carolina Baptists celebrate six-week abortion ban

By Diana Chandler

COLUMBIA, S.C. (BP) – The South Carolina Legislature passed a six-week abortion ban May 23, allowing limited exceptions based on the mother’s health, fetal abnormalities, rape and incest.

South Carolina Baptists applauded the bill as the culmination of prayer and advocacy, but said the legislation falls short of their goals.

“Ultimately, we are praying and working toward the day when every unborn life is protected in the womb, regardless the circumstances,” Tony Wolfe, executive director – treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC), told Baptist Press. “Some exceptions in this bill fall short of that goal.”

The Fetal Heartbeat and Protection From Abortion Act, passed by a vote of 27-19, outlaws abortions after the detection of a heartbeat, generally accepted as six weeks, with exceptions in cases of medical emergencies and when the fetus suffers abnormalities. Women who have suffered rape or incest may seek an abortion through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the bill stipulates.

“The law is not perfect. It stops short of our goals,” Wolfe said. “But we celebrate this win today, knowing the countless lives it will save in the coming months and years, while we work toward a day when abortion is altogether unheard of in our borders and when every child, born and unborn, is saturated in and transformed by the hope of the Gospel and the love of Christ’s churches.”

The SCBC and its pro-life partners have advocated to end abortion in the state.

“Our state convention’s Christian Life Commission and staff have worked tirelessly this session, both behind the scenes and in the statehouse,” Wolfe said, “to urge legislators to protect the precious unborn lives of the next generation of South Carolinians.”

The bill becomes law immediately upon the signature of Gov. Henry McMaster, who supports the legislation. The South Carolina Supreme Court blocked in January by a vote of 3-2 the state’s previous six-week abortion ban that would have taken effect in 2022, agreeing with the Planned Parenthood South Atlantic that the measure violates a woman’s right to privacy.

Ten Commandments bill fails in Texas Legislature

By Diana Chandler

AUSTIN, Texas (BP) – A bill that would have required public elementary and secondary schools to post prominently the King James Version of the Ten Commandments in every classroom has died in Texas.

The Texas Senate passed the legislation in April, but the House failed to meet a midnight deadline May 23 to advance the legislation.

Republican Sen. Phil King authored the legislation as “a good healthy step” in reviving a tradition of recognizing America’s religious heritage.

The bill “restores a little bit of those religious liberties that were lost and most importantly will remind students all across Texas of the importance of a fundamental foundation of America and Texas law,” King said when the Senate passed the bill, “and that being the Ten Commandments.”

Displays of the Ten Commandments, versions of which are prominent among many religions encompassing Protestants, Catholics and Jews, would have been required to meet certain size specifications and would have been limited to the King James Version of the Bible.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was attorney general when the state successfully won the right to display a Ten Commandments monument outside the state capitol.

The Texas Legislature approved a bill allowing trained chaplains in schools, and the Senate passed a second bill allowing school districts to require schools to include staff and student prayer time in daily schedules. The latter bill has not passed the House.

The bills are among several the Texas Legislature has considered recently that promote religion, including a bill that became law in August, 2022 allowing schools to display the sign “In God We Trust,” as long as the signs are donated or financed with private funds.