Abortions after 19 weeks now illegal in South Carolina

Governor Nikki Haley's signature made it official, Wednesday.

FILE - In this Monday, May 2, 2016 file photo, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks with reporters outside the Jasper County office building in Ridgeland, S.C., after a briefing on a $4.5 billion container terminal South Carolina and Georgia are jointly building on the Savannah River. The South Carolina Legislature passed a bill Tuesday, May 17, 2016, prohibiting abortion after 19 weeks, becoming the 17th state to pass the restrictive ban. The legislation will now head to Gov. Haley's desk. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, File)

Abortions after 19 weeks are now illegal in the Palmetto state. Surrounded by kids from Hidden Treasure Christian School in Taylors, Governor Nikki Haley’s signature made it official, Wednesday.

The 4 year fight to get to this point is a rocky one; so much so, Governor Haley addressed the controversy in front of the crowd.

“There’s been controversy around this bill and they always are with pro-life bills. I want us to respect the controversy, but I also want us to see a responsibility with that,” she said.

The bill – which asserts a fetus can feel at 20 weeks – calls on medical research that some critics say isn’t entirely truthful.

“We go with a responsibility to not judge those that are contemplating abortion or choosing abortion, but to see it as our responsibility to tell them those stories,” said Haley.

She pointed to stories like Wendy and Savannah Duke’s.

Savannah was born with one leg and a malignant tumor in her hip. At 20 weeks, mother Wendy learned the devastating news from her doctor.

“Immediately the first option that he gave us was to abort the child,” said Wendy, sitting down with 7 News’ Addie Hampton.

Scared and uninformed, Wendy said they thought about it, but, ultimately, they chose to keep Savannah.

“In a very quick and emotional moment, we could have snuffed her whole life out and would have been justified and had legal rights to do that,” Wendy explained.

Most recently, they testified before the state Senate for this newly formed abortion law.

“I just realize how important it was that they thought about it and they took into consideration how it would be if I wasn’t here,” said Savannah Duke.

Today, 15 –year-old Savannah is a champion swimmer and a part of the choir at Dorman High School.

While they recognize that every mother’s situation is unique, they hope this law is backed by more resources.

“Most of these pregnancies at this point are these desperate cases. I just hope that our story will give people hope and courage,” said Wendy.

Governor Haley’s signature makes South Carolina the 13th state to enforce a ban. Any physician who violates the law is guilty of a misdemeanor. They face a maximum sentence of three years in jail plus a potential fine.

The law goes into effect immediately.

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