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The South Carolina State Senate has failed to pass a near-total abortion ban after a Republican representative filibustered the bill.


The Thursday special session contained 30 Republicans of the 46-member Senate who voted in favor of the proposed ban, enough to pass the bill but not enough to stop GOP Senator Tom Davis from filibustering it. Davis was among five Republicans who voted against the ban, including all of the chamber's women.

Davis, who previously served as chief of staff for former Governor Mark Sanford, said he promised his daughters he would not vote for the ban. He spoke during the Senate hearing, citing their words: "The moment we become pregnant we lose all control over what goes on with our bodies. I'm here to tell you I'm not going to let it happen."

Davis' actions forced Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey to concede the abortion ban would likely not pass. He stated: "We were never going to pass a total abortion ban. We never had the votes to pass even what the House passed."

The bill will now return to the South Carolina House of Representatives, who previously passed it with exceptions for rape and incest. Senators then removed the exceptions before bringing the bill to vote, cutting the time period victims would have to seek an abortion from 20 weeks to 12 weeks. The three Republican women in the Senate who voted against the bill said they could not support it unless the exceptions were restored.

Katrina Shealy, who has previously proposed anti-abortion bills in four separate legislative sessions, was one of the three GOP women to vote against the ban. She spoke to the Senate Wednesday night before the vote, saying her male colleagues "would be better off listening to their wives, daughters, mothers, granddaughters and looking at the faces of the girls in Sunday School classes at their churches."

She continued: “Yes, I’m pro-life. I’m also pro-life for the mother, the life she has with her children who are already born. I care about the children who are forced into adulthood that was made up by a legislature full of men so they can take a victory lap and feel good about it.”

Shealy previously supported the proposed bill from a year and a half ago that would ban abortions after six weeks. The only one of the three Republican women who voted against the six-week ban was Senator Sandy Senn, who also spoke Wednesday about how bans such as South Carolina's will affect the November midterms.

“You cannot legislate morality, you cannot tell people who to sleep with, you cannot tell people who to marry and you cannot tell women what to do with their own bodies, try as you might," Senn stated. "This issue is huge. You don’t think that women will vote single-issue on something like this? Because they will.”

South Carolina's Supreme Court has currently suspended the six-week abortion ban as they determine whether or not it violates privacy laws, though abortion is still prohibited after 20 weeks in the state. Senn believes the bill and other proposed bans are invasions of the privacy of every woman in the state, stating:

"If what is going on in my vagina isn't an unreasonable invasion of privacy for this legislature to get involved in, I don't know what is."

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