Abortion ban bills fail in Nebraska and South Carolina
In South Carolina, five female lawmakers, including three Republicans, led the filibuster that defeated the bill.
In a surprising turn of events, lawmakers in the deeply conservative states of South Carolina and Nebraska were able to use the filibuster to reject bills that would have banned abortions wholly in the former and banned the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy in the latter.
On Thursday L.B. 626 was narrowly defeated in Nebraska’s unicameral Legislature by a 32-15 filibuster-ending cloture vote, just one vote shy of the two-thirds majority needed to pass. Two senators abstained from voting.
The bill would have banned all abortions in the state around the sixth week of pregnancy. Exceptions would not have included ectopic pregnancies.
In a statement to the Omaha World-Herald, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Nebraska, Andi Curry Grubb, said: “Today’s vote is a huge victory for abortion access in Nebraska, the Midwest, and for the country. … It means abortion will remain safe and legal in our state, providing people with the bodily autonomy they deserve.”
Abortion in Nebraska remains illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
This latest vote is the third time a near-total abortion ban has been defeated in the GOP-led Legislature since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last June that overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the federal constitutional affirmation of a right to abortion.
Also on Thursday, South Carolina state senators rejected a bill that would have outlawed all abortions from the moment of conception by a 22-21 vote.
According to The Hill, the defeat came after a multiday filibuster led by five women lawmakers, three Republicans, one Democrat and an independent.
The five lawmakers argued against the Senate’s male majority and its focus on abortion above other vital state issues.
According to the PBS NewsHour, during the filibuster Republican Sen. Sandy Senn said: “The only thing that we can do when you all, you men in the chamber, metaphorically keep slapping women by raising abortion again and again and again, is for us to slap you back with our words.”
Independent Sen. Mia McLeod criticized her fellow lawmakers for spending more time pushing for abortion restrictions than dealing with crime: “Just as rape is about power and control, so is this total ban. Those who continue to push legislation like this are raping us again with their indifference, violating us again with their righteous indignation, taunting us again with their insatiable need to play God while they continue to pass laws that are ungodly.”
The bill, which passed the South Carolina House in February, offered exemptions for abortions in cases of rape or incest, but only within 12 weeks, and when the life of the pregnant person was at risk or when a fetus was not viable.
Following the filibuster, Vickie Ringer, the director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said in a statement:
The government should never force a person to carry a pregnancy or give birth against their will, but this male-dominated legislature is hellbent on controlling the decisions of women. A person’s health, not politicians, should guide important medical decisions at all stages of pregnancy. We urge House lawmakers to focus on policies that will actually help South Carolinians live and thrive in their communities rather than try yet again to ban abortion in the state.
Abortions can still be obtained up until 22 weeks of pregnancy in South Carolina, and the (Charleston) Post and Courier reported that almost half of the 2,927 abortions carried out in the state from January until March were for pregnant people who had traveled from outside it.
The South Carolina bill will now carry over to the Legislature’s 2024 session, starting in January.
Fourteen states now have bans on most abortions, according to a tracker maintained by The New York Times.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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