Some South Carolina Republicans pause on the brink of abortion ban | Top stories

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COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — For the past three decades, South Carolina lawmakers have reduced access to abortion, requiring ultrasounds, parental consent and 24-hour waiting periods, and banning the procedure at the beginning of pregnancy: first after 20 weeks, then after six hours.

But now that the United States Supreme Court has paved the way for a total ban on abortion in the state, some are taking a step back. Politicians, mostly Republicans, are taking note of what happened this month in Kansas, where nearly 60% of voters rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed the state’s conservative legislature to ban the ‘abortion. Republican Donald Trump secured 56% of the 2020 presidential vote in Kansas. Trump won 55% in South Carolina.

“The Kansas vote confirms what most of us know,” said Sen. Sandy Senn, the only Republican senator to vote against the six-week abortion ban that passed 18 years ago. month. “It’s the people in my party, almost all of them men, shouting the loudest that women should have no choice from the moment of conception.

Senn says that while she personally believes “all babies should be born,” she also believes people should be able to decide for themselves whether to pursue a pregnancy in the first few months.

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

A total ban on abortion with exceptions only if the mother’s life is in danger just started its way through the South Carolina General Assembly. Committee hearings and floor debates in the House and Senate will need to take place before any bill lands on Republican Gov. Henry McMaster’s desk.

Republican legislative leaders agreed to the special session after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. But instead of a rehash of the arguments lawmakers had in early 2021, when they passed a ban on abortions after heart activity was detected — at around six weeks old — some Republicans have begun to reassess their positions.

“It’s like you’re playing with real bullets right now. What you decide is going to have an immediate effect on a lot of South Carolina,” said Republican Rep. Tom Davis, who voted to ban cardiac activity abortion last year after exceptions were added. for pregnancies caused by rape and incest and those which endanger the life of the pregnant person.

Davis said he is now rethinking the whole issue, weighing the rights of a fetus to live against the rights of someone to control their own body.

He says he will also consider the opinions of residents of his affluent coastal district around Hilton Head Island. And it plans to introduce measures to improve prenatal care and give people more emotional and financial support during and after pregnancies.

Rep. Bill Taylor was standing just behind McMaster when he signed the six-week ban. Last month, he emailed his constituents with the caption “WHAT’S THE RUSH,” saying South Carolina shouldn’t be rushing into a full ban now.

Instead, the state should step back a few years to see how its new law banning the procedure after six weeks is working, the Republican lawmaker said. South Carolina should also look at what is happening in states that now have outright bans and others that allow abortions later in pregnancies and study foster care programs and other social services to see what can be done to help them manage an influx of births, he said. . About 6,300 abortions were performed in South Carolina in 2021.

“So many questions, so few answers and solutions,” Taylor wrote in the email, which also included the statement, “I cherish God’s incredible gift of life. I gladly accept the label pro-life.”

One of the reasons some abortion opponents don’t want to wait to pass a tougher abortion ban is McMaster, who is up for re-election in November. His Democratic opponent, Joe Cunningham, has vowed to veto any bill that further restricts abortion. Republicans are within a couple of two-thirds votes needed to override vetoes in both the House and Senate.

Abortion opponents have gone a long way to get South Carolina to where it is. Lawmakers first rallied significantly in the late 1980s, then stepped up their actions even further in the decades that followed.

In 1990, they passed a bill requiring the consent of a parent or a 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 abortions, which are rare.

In 2008 a law required mothers to sign a form telling them they could have an ultrasound before an abortion and in 2010 a 24-hour waiting period was passed. A ban on abortion after 20 weeks, which supporters say is the point where a fetus may experience pain, was passed in 2018. Prior to its June ruling, the Supreme Court had never allowed states to prohibit abortion before the point of about 24 weeks when a fetus can survive outside the uterus.

Republican Sen. Larry Grooms, who has made ending abortion one of the biggest issues in his 25 years in the Senate, said he wants a total ban because his goal is to “save all lives possible” – but it won’t. require a certain invoice because “when you do everything or nothing, you can end up with nothing”.

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

Democrats in the Legislature say it’s too late to think twice, given the Supreme Court’s decision and the fact that the state has already so severely restricted abortion. They fear that everything is on the table, including the criminalization of women who seek abortion in one way or another.

“I think we’re going to land between mad and mad,” said House Democratic Minority Leader Todd Rutherford. “Where that line is will make no sense. And we shouldn’t be in this position in the first place.”


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