Effort to further restrict abortion fails in South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Efforts to impose tighter restrictions on abortion in South Carolina are now dead for this year. That’s what lawmakers are saying after a legislative panel failed to reach a compromise today – following weeks of stalemate over what those restrictions should look like.
Republicans dominate both chambers here at the State House – and they’ve wanted to impose tighter restrictions on abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer.
The House of Representatives first passed a ban on abortion from conception – with limited exceptions.
The Senate said it didn’t have the votes to pass as restrictive a bill – so it passed an adjustment to the state’s current law – which bans most abortions after six weeks.
This six-member panel of three senators and three House members met twice – most recently on Wednesday – to try to work out a compromise between the two bills that they’d be able to get passed in both chambers before the legislation officially dies Sunday.
Two Republicans, Rep. John McCravy and Sen. Richard Cash – have stood behind a ban from conception – despite repeated assertions from Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey that that restrictive a bill could not pass the Senate.
Because the two Democrats on this panel were unlikely to support any bill that restricts abortion – all four Republicans would need to be on board with it to send it back to their chambers.
Those Republicans voted to send out the ban from conception – and not long after – the Senate voted that bill down, as Massey had repeatedly said it would.
The six-member conference committee then reconvened for a second time Wednesday to try to work out another bill – but this time, no House members showed up.
Representative McCravy had said earlier in the day he had a family commitment – so if the Senate didn’t approve the ban from conception – he wouldn’t be around for another meeting.
With no compromise – the Senate adjourned – effectively killing this legislation for the rest of the year.
Chamber leaders blamed each other.
Massey lambasted House members for what he described as playing political games.
“You’ve got amateurs over there playing legislative strategy, and they don’t know what they’re doing,” Massey said.
But House Speaker Murrell Smith said Massey and Senate Republicans were just giving excuses for not standing up for the Republican Party platform and stronger abortion legislation.
“Then they played this game of trying to schedule something after they knew we couldn’t meet at that time,” Smith said.
While lawmakers technically still have until Sunday to reach and pass a compromise – Speaker Smith says the bill is dead.
So lawmakers will have to wait until next year to introduce new abortion legislation.
While Republicans will gain more seats in the House next year after last night’s elections – the makeup of the Senate will stay the same – as senators were not up for re-election this year.
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