South Carolina Senate fails to pass near-total abortion ban after GOP lawmaker filibuster

The failure of a near-total abortion ban prompted a split among South Carolina Republicans – and the gap between Republicans in general – whether abortion restrictions should include exceptions for pregnancies that were the result of rape or incest.

South Carolina House Bill 5399, which passed the State House last month, had enough support from Senate Republicans to ban nearly all abortions in the state, but on Thursday a filibuster from GOP State Sen. Tom Davis put it on its track. I stopped. Republicans didn’t have the votes to pull off a filibuster and vote on the bill, which requires a higher threshold for votes.

“I won’t let this (bill) vote until this body votes and sits me down,” Davis said on the Senate floor Thursday night.

South Carolina State Senator Tom Davis reacts after passing a new ban on abortion in the state legislature in Columbia, South Carolina, US, September 8, 2022.

In introducing the amendment, state Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, a Republican, acknowledged that “there are currently no votes in the Senate to impose abortion restrictions before six weeks.”

“I hate that I have to admit it,” he said, “you have the votes to pass it, and unfortunately we don’t.”

Macy introduced his amendment, saying, “This is not where I wanted to be. I was hoping we would do something aggressive in response to Dobbs.” “Hopefully we are going to make progress. This revision is definitely progress.”

He claimed that the amendment would “sideline” the South Carolina law, S.1 against legal challenges, and correct issues that the state’s Supreme Court identified as ambiguity with the law. He argued that if the law was not set, South Carolina would have “abortion on demand”.

s. 1 prohibits abortion, known as “fetal heartbeat”, which can occur up to four weeks, and usually six weeks into the pregnancy.

Massey’s amendment maintains exceptions to the ban on pregnancies that result from rape or incest, but shortens the time frame. The law currently allows exceptions to the ban for rape or incest if the “potential post-fertilization age of the fetus” is less than 20 weeks. The amendment would allow exceptions for rape or incest up to the first trimester, which is up to about 14 weeks.

Several senators on the floor on Thursday took issue with two subsections of the amendment, which state that fatal fetal abnormalities would need to be diagnosed by two different physicians before an abortion can be performed, and that a physician performing an abortion “requires a DNA sample.” shall preserve “the embryo resides and notify the sheriff in the county in which the abortion was performed.” A sheriff must then retrieve and store the sample as evidence for 90 days, in order to prosecute the perpetrator of the rape. can be run

Massey’s amendment was accepted by voice vote.

The bill has been sent back to the South Carolina House of Representatives, which will decide whether to accept the changes.

Republican divided

House Bill 5399, when it was first introduced in the Senate on Wednesday, did not include exceptions for rape or incest, or fatal fetal anomalies. Davis had introduced several amendments in two days to add back in the exceptions and was successful in getting an exemption for fatal fetal anomalies in the bill.

“I made some progress in improving the bad bill yesterday, but it’s nowhere near the point where I can support it,” Davis said Thursday.

“And I believe to a significant degree that I am breaking up with my Republican brethren,” he said.

Republican members were deeply divided over whether these exceptions should be included in the bill — with all three female GOP members in the Senate vehemently against the bill on Wednesday morning.

South Carolina State Senator Katrina Fry Shealy listens while debating a new ban on abortion in the state legislature in Columbia, South Carolina, US September 8, 2022.

“If you want to believe that God wants you to put forward a bill without exception that kills mothers and ruins the lives of children, let the mothers bring the children home for burial, then I think you’re miscommunicating with God or maybe you’re just not communicating with him,” Republican Sen. Katrina Shealy said in a fiery speech directed toward her male colleagues on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

“I know we disagree on a lot of issues, but when you talk about the menstrual cycle, conception, how do you know when your egg is fertilized or you have a baby, I have to tell you That it really disgusts me.”

Shealy said: “Yes, I am pro-life. I am also pro-life with the mother, that life is with her children who are already born. I care about children who were forced into adulthood who That was made by a legislature full of men so they can take a victory lap and feel good about it. You want to raise children who will most likely be victims of domestic violence and live in poverty. But you care Not because you have done your work and after his birth you will forget him.”

Fellow GOP Sen. Sandy Sen also predicted that women would come out in large numbers in November’s election to vote on the issue of abortion, as well as calling for the issue to be put on the ballot.

Republican Sen. Penny Gustafson called on lawmakers to “face reality. We don’t live in a dark age.”

“It’s not just a moral decision. And I’m not advocating for abortion on demand and I’m not advocating birth control for abortion, but there are other considerations that should be made,” she told the Senate in the debate. For the exception of fatal fetal anomalies stated on the floor.

Lawmakers on Thursday called on H. 5399, so its text would be replaced with a joint resolution that would propose a ballot measure that would “amend the Constitution to recognize the right to bodily integrity and autonomy including the limited right to abortion.” included.”

Conservative Republican Rep. Josiah Magnusson, who supported the bill, told CNN it was “shameful” that the Senate failed to pass an abortion ban because “most of these Republicans ran on strong pro-life” platforms.

“We have to pass a bill that really protects every innocent life,” he argued. He said conservative Republicans would be willing to go with what lawmakers can do to restrict abortion, but added, “I don’t think it’s the best we can get.” Magnusson said he supports voting the Senate changes to the bill, sending the legislation to a convention committee if the House chooses to do so.

After the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Roe v. Wade, an ad hoc committee in the South Carolina House met in July to put together a “working draft” of H. 5399.

The original bill as he drafted it sought to ban abortion at every stage of pregnancy without exceptions for rape or incest—which, like the Senate, was a major point of contention among Republicans in the House. was.

Exceptions were limited to preventing the death of the pregnant woman, a substantial risk of death for the pregnant woman due to the physical condition or “substantial physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.” The bill listed a number of medical conditions that are believed to pose a risk to a pregnant woman, including a molar pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, severe preeclampsia, and miscarriage.

Before voting to move the bill, the House hastily added last week for rape and incest cases up to 12 weeks after conception, along with requirements to report a rape or incest claim to law enforcement.

The Senate Medical Affairs Committee removed the exception for rape and incest until 12 weeks after conception, before moving it forward to the full Senate on Tuesday.

The Senate-amended bill will now need to be re-approved by the House before it can be sent to the governor’s desk.

“This Revised Version does not advance the cause of life [South Carolina] And I can’t agree with a bill that does nothing,” Republican Rep. John McCrevy, the chairman of the House ad hoc committee, told CNN in an email. Wasn’t called – we were called to rewrite our state’s laws after Dobbs’ decision.”

CNN’s Diane Gallagher contributed to this report.

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