February 7, 2023

Over the past three decades, South Carolina lawmakers have phased out access to abortion, requiring ultrasounds, parental consent and 24-hour waiting periods, and banning the procedure early in pregnancy: first after 20 weeks, then after six weeks.

But now that the US Supreme Court has cleared the way to outlawing abortion entirely in the state, some are beginning to take a step back. Politicians, mostly Republicans, point to what happened this month in Kansas, where nearly 60% of voters rejected a ballot that would have allowed the state’s conservative legislature to ban abortion. Republican Donald Trump received 56% of the 2020 presidential vote in Kansas. Trump won 55% in South Carolina.

Senator Sandy Sen, the only Republican senator to vote against the six-week abortion ban that was passed 18 months ago, said: “The Kansas vote confirms what most of us know. It’s the people in my party, most of them men, screaming at the loudest that women should have no A choice from the moment of conception.”

Sen says that while she personally believes “that all children should be born,” she also believes that people should be able to decide for themselves whether to carry on with pregnancies for the first few months.

South Carolina legislators also monitor other Republican-dominated legislatures. Indiana passed a near-total abortion ban Friday after several days of debate, while the West Virginia House and Senate could not immediately agree on more restrictions.

A blanket ban on abortion began with exceptions only if the mother’s life was in danger his way through the South Carolina General Assembly. Committee hearings and chamber debates in both the House and Senate must take place before any bill reaches the office of Republican Governor Henry McMaster.

Republican legislative leaders approved the special session after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. But rather than paraphrasing the arguments lawmakers put forward in early 2021, when they passed a ban on abortions after detecting cardiac activity — in about six weeks — some Republicans began reassessing their positions.

“It’s like you’re playing with live ammunition now,” said Republican Representative Tom Davis, who voted to ban cardiac activity abortions last year after adding exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape and incest and those endangering a pregnant woman’s life.

Davis said he’s now rethinking the whole issue, balancing a fetus’s rights to live versus someone else’s rights to control their own body.

He says he will also consider the opinions of people in his affluent coastal region around Hilton Head. He plans to introduce measures to improve prenatal care and give people more emotional and financial support during and after pregnancy.

Representative Bill Taylor stood right behind McMaster when he signed the six-week ban into law. Last month, he emailed his constituents “WHAT’S THE RUSH,” saying that South Carolina should not rush to pass a complete ban now.

Instead, the Republican lawmaker said, the state should take a few years back and see how its new law banning the procedure after six weeks works. South Carolina should also study what’s happening in states that now have complete bans and other states that allow abortions later in pregnancies and consider foster care and other social service programs to see what can be done to help them deal with the birth flow, he said. . About 6,300 abortions were performed in South Carolina in 2021.

“Too many questions, too few answers, and solutions,” Taylor wrote in the email, which also included the phrase: “I appreciate the wonderful gift of life that God has given. I immediately accept the pro-life label.”

One reason some abortion opponents aren’t willing to wait to pass a stricter abortion ban is McMaster, who will be re-elected in November. His Democratic opponent, Joe Cunningham, has promised to veto any bill that further restricts abortion. Republicans are less than the two-thirds needed to override vetoes in both the House and Senate.

Abortion opponents have taken a long way to get to where she is in South Carolina. Lawmakers first rallied in a significant way in the late 1980s, then ramped up their actions even more in the following decades.

In 1990, they passed a bill requiring the consent of a parent or judge before a minor could have an abortion. In 1994, they enacted strict requirements for abortion clinics. And in 1997, they passed a law banning partial abortion, which is rare.

In 2008, a law required mothers to sign a form telling them they could have an ultrasound before a miscarriage and in 2010, a 24-hour waiting period passed. A ban on abortion after 20 weeks, which proponents say is the point at which a fetus can feel pain, was passed in 2018. Prior to its June ruling, the Supreme Court had never allowed states to ban abortion before the time around 24 weeks when a fetus could survive life outside the womb.

Republican Senator Larry Grooms, who has made ending abortion one of the biggest issues in his 25 years in the Senate, said he wants a complete ban because his goal is to “save every possible life” — but he won’t ask for a specific bill because “when you make it all or nothing, it can That you end up with nothing.”

“Every pro-life bill we’ve been through over the past 25 years has helped people understand the humanity of a child,” Groom said.

Legislature Democrats say it’s too late to think, given the Supreme Court’s ruling and the fact that the state has already severely restricted abortion. They fear anything is off the table, including criminalizing women seeking abortions in some way.

House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said, “I think we’d go between madness and madness. That line wouldn’t make sense. We shouldn’t be in that position in the first place.”


Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.

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