COLUMBIA, South Carolina, May 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The South Carolina Senate has voted to effectively kill a bill to ban 97% of the state’s abortions just hours after approving a measure that dramatically strengthened it.
At 1:00 AM Friday morning, the chamber voted 24-21 to send the bill back to committee, removing it from consideration for the remainder of the year, The State reports. Five Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with Democrats against it.
Earlier on Thursday, the Senate had voted 24-1 to change the bill into a general abortion ban, rather than banning just the dismemberment abortion procedure, then voted 28-10 for the new bill. The surprising change was a result of pro-abortion state Sen. Brad Hutto offering an amendment in hopes of forcing Republicans to support something he considered extreme.
The reversal followed Republicans voting to continue the Senate’s work week, which normally ends Thursday, into Friday, and threatening to extend it into the weekend in hopes of outlasting Democrat filibuster attempts. But Democrats went through with filibustering, some claiming they canceled weekend travel plans to protect abortion.
In the end, Republicans relented. Democrats “were here en masse with no defection,” Sen. Luke Rankin, one of the Republicans who defected, said, so he decided that an extended fight on the pro-life bill would prevent the Senate from addressing other important business.
“We just didn’t have the votes,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, who also defected, said. “It’s an important issue. We wanted to fight for it. We did fight for it. We have four or five different cloture votes, and it was obvious that we were not going to have the votes we needed to have in order to bash it.”
Yesterday, Senate Republicans enthusiastically spoke of the bill as an opportunity to directly challenge Roe v. Wade. Republican Gov. Henry McMaster had endorsed it as well. However, another factor in the bill’s defeat may have been Republican House Majority Leader Gary Simrill threatening not to take up the bill unless it was changed back to a dismemberment ban.
Shortly after the vote, Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, who is challenging McMaster for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, lamented that “the RINO-crat majority caved and betrayed the unborn.”