EDIT: On May 23rd, the South Carolina State Senate passed a 6 week abortion ban. The bill is now headed to the governor who is expected to sign it into law.
All five women in South Carolina’s state senate have united to form a fierce pro-choice coalition, successfully blocking a near-total abortion ban. Republicans Katrina Shealy, Penry Gustafson, and Sandy Senn joined together with Democrat Margie Bright Matthews and Independent Mia McLeod to filibuster H.3744, the latest bill that aims to prohibit nearly all abortions and criminalize physicians who perform abortions violating the law in the state. The “Sister Senators” filibustered for two days, with the women taking turns to speak on the importance of reproductive healthcare and the various scenarios of complications in pregnancies, often for over four hours at a time.
Each of the “Sister Senators” have differing views on the issue of abortion, with some even labeling themselves as pro-life, but they all agree on one thing — that decisions regarding women’s bodies should not be made by the state. Sen. Shealy said during the filibuster, “When it comes to a woman’s body, when she becomes pregnant, she suddenly belongs to the government. Once somebody rapes her or she becomes a victim of incest, she would now belong to the government. Once a woman became pregnant for any reason, she would now become the property of the state of South Carolina.”
The unlikely coalition is an incredibly encouraging sign, showing that connections can be made across the political aisle. Sen. Matthews said, “This is certainly not a political issue. This is a human-rights issue, it’s an issue of women’s rights, privacy rights, family rights, and certainly partisan politics should not have anything to do with it.” This is further evidence that the extreme abortion bans being passed by the GOP are not popular– regardless of political party, 8 out of 10 Americans support abortion rights.
Due to the women’s unrelenting filibuster, the South Carolina Senate voted to push the bill to the next legislative cycle — allowing the current law restricting abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy to stand for the time being.
Sources: NARAL Pro Choice America; The State 5/22/2023; Greenville News 4/27/2023