SC sister senators react to 6-week abortion ban, urges for changes to the ballot
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - After the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled the state’s Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act constitutional, SC Senate, Sister Senators are calling for a change to the ballot.
In a statement released on Friday, just three days after the ruling, the five sister senators - Katrina F. Shealy (R-Lexington), Margie Bright Matthews (D-Colleton), Mia McLeod (I-Richland), Sandy Senn (R-Charleston) and Penry Gustafson (R-Kershaw) - say that while they are pro-life, they believe that life-altering decisions should be made by women who are actually pregnant and not legislators or judges.
Before Wednesday’s ruling, abortions in SC were legal through 20 weeks into a pregnancy.
The sister senators acknowledge that a pregnant woman or girl should decide to get an abortion sooner rather than later in the pregnancy, but still do not agree with the decision of when the choice should be made, their statement says.
“As mothers, we understand that six weeks is not enough time for most women and girls to realize they are pregnant, determine what is right for them and take safe, expedient action,” The sister senators say.
They say the SC Supreme Court agreed with them when it provided its opinion on Jan. 5, before the court went backward on Wednesday, which was seven months later.
Here is the timeline of what led to the ruling, according to the statement:
Feb. 18, 2021 - South Carolina’s first six-week abortion ban, also known as the “Heartbeat Bill”, became effective.
Feb. 19, 2021- The “Heartbeat Bill” was temporarily prohibited by the court.
Jan. 5, 2023 - The SC Supreme Court cracked down on the bill, saying that six weeks is not enough time for a woman or girl to find out about the pregnancy or make an informed decision about it.
Jan. 19 - The 125th General Assembly met. The SC Senate had 46 members, 41 men and five women. The House of Representatives had 124 members, 104 men and 20 women.
Feb. 8 - SC’s only female Supreme Court Justice retired and was replaced with another male. This led to the state being the only one to have an all-male Supreme Court.
May 23 - The state’s second heartbeat bill was passed by the Senate, but when two votes were needed to stop the bill, Republican male colleagues who were once supportive, changed their votes. The bill was confirmed and then prohibited, again.
Aug. 23 - The SC Supreme Court declares the state’s Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act constitutional and ends an injunction blocking the law’s enforcement.
Attorney General Alan Wilson expressed his gratitude for the state supreme court’s decision.
“The South Carolina Supreme Court’s historic decision to uphold the state’s Fetal Heartbeat Act is a huge win in our efforts to protect the unborn and save innocent lives,” Wilson said. “I appreciate all the hard work of our state legislature and am proud of the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office team that defended this law in court.”
However, State Rep. and state senate candidate, J.A. Moore (D-Charleston) did not agree with Wednesday’s ruling.
“Throughout my career, I have consistently supported protecting women’s reproductive rights. I haven’t changed my stance, and I have never strayed from advocating for women’s reproductive rights or protecting their doctors. As a Senator in the South Carolina Senate, I promise to continue fighting for women’s freedom,” he said. “This is about freedom, having control over one’s own body, and ensuring equality for all. I strongly believe that everyone should have the right to make decisions about their own bodies without government interference. We must make sure that reproductive healthcare remains accessible, safe, and private. While this recent decision is disappointing, it only strengthens my resolve to keep pushing for progress.”
With the sister senators being disappointed in the ruling, they plan to call for a state referendum to let voters decide the abortion issue, their statement says.
They are also calling for more women to be on the ballot as well. They say they believe that had there been “two more reasonable women” on the ballot and elected, then the heartbeat bill would have been blocked.
The sister senators say that in order for a statewide referendum to happen, legislators will have to approve it to move forward.
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