Male GOP Senators Ignore Women, Vote for Abortion Ban in South Carolina

Sean Rayford/Getty Images
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Twenty-seven male South Carolina legislators passed a ban on abortions after six weeks Tuesday, over the objections of all five women in the state Senate—including three Republicans.

The ban, which bars abortion before most people know they are pregnant, will now go to the desk of Gov. Henry McMaster (R), who is expected to sign it. It is particularly significant given that South Carolina is the only remaining state in the deep South without a post-Roe restriction on the procedure.

“South Carolina is holding the line for the entire Southeast,” said Ann Warner, CEO of the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network, which advocates for women’s rights in the state. “It is incredibly significant not only for our state but for the entire region.”

“South Carolina has some of the worst reproductive health outcomes in the country, extremely high rates of infant and maternal mortality,” she added. “Bans like this would make that worse.”

5 Women In South Carolina’s State Senate Are Saving Abortion Rights (For Now)

Republicans tried three times in the last eight months to ban abortion completely, but were blocked by a contingent of five women in the Senate—including three Republicans—and a handful of Republican men who voted in line with them.

After hours of heated debate on Tuesday, all of the men in the legislature voted to pass the ban.

One of the Republican women, Penry Gustafson, voted in favor of a previous six-week ban that failed to pass in February. She told The Daily Beast the intervening weeks had caused her to change her mind.

“Funny thing, when you learn and gather facts over time, sometimes your perspective evolves,” she said, noting that she did still support some restrictions on the procedure. “I’ve heard from too many women that six weeks is not long enough.”

Another of the Republican women, Katrina Shealy, introduced an amendment to ban abortion after 12 weeks—and 20 weeks for victims of incest and rape—instead.

“Men are 100 percent responsible for pregnancies,” she said while introducing it. “Men are fertile 100 percent of the time. So it is time for men in this chamber—and the ones across that hall and all across the state of South Carolina—to take some ejaculation responsibility.”

The amendment was voted down, again over the objections of the five women.

The bill will likely face legal challenges after it is signed into law. The South Carolina Supreme Court shot down a similar six-week ban that took effect directly after Roe fell. But the author of the opinion in that case—also a woman—retired earlier this year and was replaced with a man.

The three Republican women in the Senate—who, along with the two other female legislators, call themselves the “sister senators”— filibustered the last attempt to ban abortion in the state in April, holding up plastic spines dropped off at their offices by the anti-abortion group Students for Life as a hint that they should grow one.

“I’ve got one hell of a spine already, but now I’ve got another backup,” Shealy remarked at the time, according to a New York Times profile of the group.

On Tuesday, all five women entered the chambers wearing buttons reading “elect more women.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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