After months of wrangling, the South Carolina Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The bill includes some exceptions, including provisions for rape and incest that are available up to 12 weeks.
Gov. Henry McMaster said he will sign the bill as soon as possible. Once signed into law, Virginia will be the only state left in the South with relatively unrestricted access to abortion — up to 26 weeks of pregnancy.
The only five women in the state’s senate, who call themselves the “Sister Senators,” united to oppose the six-week ban, which one Republican said was “about controlling women.”
“I cried this morning, actually, with — I feel like so much weight was on our shoulders, not just for South Carolina, but Florida, Georgia, the Southeast now,” Republican Sen. Sandy Senn said with tears in her eyes.
“All of us are women. All of us are moms. And, you know, that’s a pretty strong bond,” Independent Sen. Mia McLeod said.
“Never before in the history of our state have we had five women serve simultaneously,” McLeod added. “I agree [women] are stronger than ever. But we need help.”
Democratic Sen. Margie Bright Matthews said, “I would like to think South Carolina can be a beacon for the fact that, yes, you can find common ground with folks on the other side of the aisle.”
Senn said that she felt that “If we had three more women in addition to the Democrats, we would have been able to hold this.”
Republican Sen. Katrina Shealy agreed, saying, “We have to fight hard to keep our seats and keep the women we have and we’ve got to get more women in the Senate.”
Republican Sen. Penry Gustafson said that her message for the country is “you do not have to be ugly to push your platform, to push your beliefs, to push your legislation. It doesn’t have to be contentious.”
When asked if she was hopeful, McLeod said “Yeah, I am. Absolutely. We’re fighters. All of us are here because we’re not afraid to fight.”
Shealy agreed. “Nobody got here easily,” she said.
“We live to fight another day,” Democratic Sen. Margie Bright Matthews said.