South Carolina governor Henry McMaster (R.) signed a heartbeat bill into law Thursday, effectively banning abortion in the state after six weeks of pregnancy.

The law requires doctors to perform ultrasounds and would ban abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected. The law contains exceptions for rape, incest, and concerns over the health of the mother and baby. McMaster praised lawmakers for making South Carolina the 12th state to adopt the pro-life reform, calling the legislation “a big step forward” during the signing ceremony.

“This is very important. This is one of the most pro-life bills,” he said.

The South Carolina state House passed the bill Wednesday in a bipartisan 79-35 vote after Democrats staged an 11th hour walkout to slow the vote. Rep. Lucas Atkinson (D.), one of two Democrats to vote for the bill, said protecting the unborn should not be a partisan issue.