On Tuesday, despite a filibuster led by five women senators, including three Republicans, the South Carolina Senate enacted a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. As practically every other Southern state has headed towards bans, the state of Texas has become an unexpected destination for women seeking the operation.
Republican Governor Henry McMaster has already indicated his intention to sign the bill into law. The State Supreme Court overturned a six-week ban and recognised a right to abortion in the State Constitution in January, and abortion activists have announced they would fight the prohibition in court.
A year has passed since the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, returning abortion regulation to the states, and the law has highlighted splits within the Republican party about the appropriate level of restriction on abortion.
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, at least 25 states have enacted restrictions on abortion. Currently, abortion is illegal in 14 of the states. After another six weeks, South Carolina is likely to follow Georgia in banning the surgery.
The “Sister Senators,” a group of women who staged a filibuster to protest the South Carolina abortion bill, claimed that the legislation would create so many barriers to access that almost no one in the state would be able to get an abortion. It takes most women about two weeks after they have missed their period to suspect they could be pregnant, even though pregnancy is regarded to begin on the first day of the previous menstrual cycle.
A minimum of two medical visits and two ultrasounds are mandated for every woman considering an abortion under the new legislation. One of the Republican women who voted against the six-week ban, Senator Katrina Shealy, remarked on Tuesday, “We are not God. It’s time to give individuals the freedom to make their own choices.
Republicans control both houses of Congress, but the more conservative House has tried three times to force the Senate to adopt a measure that would outlaw almost all abortions from the moment of conception. Senate women and three male Republicans were able to filibuster three times. Instead, the Republican women advocated for a 12-week moratorium or putting the issue to voters in a referendum proposal.
Senator Richard Cash, a Republican from South Carolina, said the 12-week legislation would lead to “abortion on demand” if it passed the Senate.
As a compromise, two of the Republican women had accepted a six-week prohibition, with exceptions for life-threatening pregnancies, rape, and incest. The law had already been approved by the Senate, but a new vote was required in the House due to modifications.
A section that would have permitted minors to receive an abortion or seek a waiver from a court if they could not secure parental approval was removed, and the modifications also included the criteria for the doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds. Opponents of the law said that it would make it impossible for anybody to have a legal abortion since there is already a two- or three-week wait at the state’s three abortion facilities.
The State Supreme Court had criticised the House version when it set down the earlier six-week ban because it included assertions of fact. One theory holds that the presence of heart activity in a foetus, which may be seen around week six, is a “key indicator” of a successful delivery. There is also the argument that the state has a “compelling interest from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to protect the health of the woman and the life of the unborn child.”
Lawmakers who opposed the bill on the grounds that it may be interpreted as a proclamation that a foetus is a person opposed the filibuster. The measure also mandates paternal child support payments beginning at the time of conception.
A doctor’s licence may be revoked for legal infractions by the state board of medical examiners, and complaints can be filed by anybody. A doctor who performs an abortion on a minor may be sued in civil court by the child’s parents.
The Republican majority in the legislature was keen to overturn the State Supreme Court’s January ruling by passing a ban. The lone female justice who participated in the decision-making process often cited the advancement of women’s rights since the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.
But she resigned soon after, and a man was elected to take her place, so now South Carolina has the sole all-male supreme court.
Since other Southern states implemented limits on abortions, Republicans, including the women who sought to filibuster the measure, have been worried about the increasing number of abortions in the state. About half of all abortions in recent months have included people from outside of the state, according to health authorities.