South Carolina Republican Rep Gives Emotional Comments Against 'Heartbeat' Abortion Bill

South Carolina state representative Neal Collins delivered emotional comments about the real-life effects the state’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban has had on women during a House Judiciary Committee meeting in Columbia on August 16.

Collins, a Republican, voted in favor of the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection From Abortion Act, which bans all abortions after six weeks when a heartbeat is detected in the fetus. The bill was signed into law in February 2021 and went into effect on June 27, 2022, after a federal judge lifted an injunction blocking enforcement, local reports said.

Collins began by reciting statistics about women’s health and maternal mortality rates in South Carolina, which consistently ranks among the worst in the United States, before describing the case of a 19-year-old woman who was denied an abortion for an unviable fetus and discharged from the hospital due to the state’s fetal heartbeat bill.

Collins said he was contacted by a local doctor who told him about the case.

“First, she’s going to pass this fetus in the toilet. She’s going to have to deal with that on her own. There’s a 50-percent chance — greater than 50-percent chance that she’s going to lose her uterus. There’s a 10-percent chance that she will develop sepsis and herself die. That weighs on me. I voted for that bill and we’re having a meeting on this…. That whole week I did not sleep,” Collins said.

“Out of respect for the process, I’m not voting today. But I want it to be clear that myself and many others are not in a position to vote for this bill without significant changes to the bill,” Collins said.

Collins’s comments came during a South Carolina House Judiciary Committee meeting on South Carolina House Bill 5399, which would amend South Carolina’s code of laws to prohibit abortions in the state, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The House Judiciary Committee voted to advance the bill to the House floor. Collins and several others abstained. Credit: South Carolina State House via Storyful

Video transcript

- All right. Pending question is favorable report on 5399. All right. The last comment will be Representative Collins.

- Thank you, Mr Chairman. We'd like to go over some data. And then also give my concluding remarks. In South Carolina, the maternal mortality is eighth highest in the nation. Black women die at three times the rate of white women in South Carolina. South Carolina infant mortality is fifth highest in the nation. 7.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births among all women. Number 50th in the worst state to have a baby.

South Carolina ranks 48th among best states for women. 49th in women's economic and social well-being. 45th for women's health and safety. South Carolina ranks 47th for women's rights. 46th in workplace environment for women. 42nd in education and health for women. 45th in political empowerment. 48th for working moms. 45th for quality affordable child care. 48th in professional opportunities. 45th for work life balance.

43rd in best states to raise a family. 42nd in overall health outcomes. 43rd in diabetes. 41st of mental distress. 41st in premature death. 44th in access to dental care. 46th in low birth weight. 49th in-- sorry, 41st in obesity. 43rd in public health funding. 41st in uninsured. 23rd in disparity in health status. 40th in income equality. 40th in median household income.

Sixth highest for childhood diabetes. Sixth highest for childhood obesity. A health care system that ranks 44th in the nation. 10th highest mortality rate for women in ages 23 to 44. 14.2% of women of reproductive age, that's 19 to 54, in South Carolina are uninsured. That's higher than the 11.9% national rate.

17.4% of women in South Carolina reported not receiving health care at some point in the last 12 months due to cost. That's higher than the national rate at 14.1%. 60% of all births in South Carolina, planned and unplanned, are paid for by Medicaid at a cost of more than $500 million a year. 57,029 births annually. 6,396 babies are born prematurely at a cost of $330 million to taxpayers to care for these babies.

1,730 babies born with a birth defect. One in five infant deaths due to birth defect. 402 babies die before their first birthday. South Carolina ranks 10th high state in child mortality. One in six infants were born to a woman receiving inadequate prenatal care in South Carolina. 7.2% of live births were born to women receiving no prenatal care. 70,000 die each year from pregnancy or childbirth complications. Making it the second leading cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide.

South Carolina has highest rate of teen pregnancy. South Carolina ranks 50th in OB-GYNs and midwives per capita. 12 of 46 counties have no OB-GYN. Only seven counties in South Carolina have more than five. That leaves 27 counties with 1 to 5 OB-GYNs. That's 1 per 2,800 South Carolina women.

40.4% of families in South Carolina have a female head of household. That's the ninth highest US National figure above--

- Mr. Collins, wrap it up, please.

- I'll move to my final comments then, Mr. Chairman. I voted for the Pain Capable Bill. The Fetal Heartbeat bill. And Fetal Heartbeat has been for six weeks now. The second week that the Fetal Heartbeat Bill became law a doctor called me out of Anderson. I live in Easley. A 19-year-old girl appeared at the ER. She was 15 weeks pregnant. Her water broke. And the fetus was unviable. The standard of care was to advise her that they could extract or she could go home.

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. So their only choices were to admit the 19-year-old until that fetal heartbeat stopped. I asked, how long does it take to stop? She said, seconds, minutes, hours, maybe days. Or discharge. They discharged that 19-year-old.

The doctor told me at that point there's a 50% chance-- well, first, she's going to pass this fetus in the toilet. She's going to have to deal with that on her own. There's a 50% chance, greater than 50% chance, that she's going to lose her uterus. There's a 10% chance that she will develop sepsis and herself die. That weighs on me. I voted for that bill. These are affecting people. And we're having a meeting about this.

That whole week I did not sleep. I followed up with the doctor a week later. She had heard nothing. Did not know about the 19-year-old. Thank God, I followed up two weeks later. She did return to ER. They did extract the now non beating fetus. What we do matters.

- Thank you, Representative Collins.

- One second, Mr. Chairman. I'm almost finished. Out of respect for the process, I'm not voting today. But I want it to be clear that myself and many others are not in a position to vote for this bill without significant changes to the bill.

- As Representative Newton said, if we pass this out as favorable, you'll have an opportunity on the House floor. So the question before us is favorable reading or favorable passage of 5399. Roll call is required.

- Chairman Murphy.

- I.

- Representative Bailey. Representative Bamberg.

- No.

- Representative Bernstein.

- Representative Bryant.

- I.

- Representative Kasky.

- Representative Collins.

- Representative Cox.

- By a vote of 13 in favor, 7 opposed, 5 not voting, the bill receives a favorable report. With that, our business is concluded.