By Holly Gatling, Executive Director, South Carolina Citizens for Life
COLUMBIA, S.C. (Thursday, April 27, 2023) – With six legislative days left in the 2023 South Carolina General Assembly, pro-life senators were unable to overcome the pro-abortion assault on the Human Life Protection Act (H3774). Instead, the Senate parked the bill until 2024 by a procedural vote to continue the bill. The vote was 22-21 with six Republicans joining the pro-abortion Democrats to prevent further debate on the bill until 2024.
While the bill technically is still in play, Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey said the Senate does not have the votes to pass the Human Life Protection act. According to Post and Courier reporter Seanna Adcox, Massey, R-Edgefield, “made it clear that there’s no appetite in the Senate to make another doomed attempt in 2024,” for a bill that protects unborn children and their mothers from the time a pregnancy is clinically diagnosable .
Massey, who supported the Human Life Protection Act, told the Charleston newspaper “The Senate does not have the votes to pass a ban before six weeks.”
South Carolina Citizens for Life President Lisa Van Riper expressed disappointment in the Republican-controlled Senate. She noted however, that this is the first year of a two-year session and that gives the House and the Senate another year to resolve their differences.
“We will never give up our mission to protect the unborn members of our human family,” Mrs. Van Riper said. “The South Carolina House passed a strong pro-life law by an extremely strong vote of 83-31. There are four exceptions for when abortions can be performed: to save the life of the mother, to prevent serious bodily impairment, in cases of rape and incest, and in cases of fatal fetal anomaly. Last year the Senate failed to pass a similar law because it did not have all the exceptions. The House carefully drafted the Human Life Protection Act this year to meet the Senate’s requirements.”
After a hopeful beginning of debate on Tuesday, the Senate gave second reading to the Human Life protection Act by a single vote of 22-21. On Wednesday, however, opponents of the bill, including six Republicans began a filibuster that required 26 votes to end. There were consistently only 23 votes.
Abortion data from the Department of Health and Environmental Control show abortions have doubled in South Carolina since the State Supreme Court overturned the South Carolina 2021 Fetal Heartbeat Act while Georgia and Florida enacted laws protecting the unborn when the heartbeat can be detected. South Carolina is an abortion destination state for the southeast.
Senator Massey said Tuesday in explaining why Senators should pass the bill, “South Carolina [abortion] law is the weakest in the southeast.” Massey emphasized that abortions for out-of-state women have nearly doubled. North Carolina allows late abortions up to 20 weeks but there is a three-day waiting period, he said. That is a factor driving North Carolina residents to South Carolina where there is a 24-hour waiting period.
In 2022 from January to March, 87 non-resident women received abortions in South Carolina. In 2023 from January to March, 1,385 non-resident women received abortions in South Carolina. “That is a 1,500 percent increase” in the number of non-resident women coming to South Carolina for abortion, he said.
Abortion is legal in South Carolina up to 20 weeks after fertilization. “Most South Carolinians don’t think that is acceptable,” Massey said.
All 22 votes in favor of second reading for the Human Life Protection Act are Republicans. There are 30 Republicans in the SC Senate. Six Republicans joining the pro-abortion Democrats in opposing the Human Life Protection Act.
They are Tom Davis of Beaufort, Sandy Senn of Charleston, Katrina Shealy of Lexington, Penry Gustafson of Kershaw, Luke Rankin of Horry, and Greg Hembree of Horry.