Abortion Bans Fail in South Carolina and Nebraska

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South Carolina and Nebraska, two conservative states that have been pushing to ban abortion, on Thursday both failed to pass new bills prohibiting the procedure, preserving broad access to abortion in those states and handing surprise victories to abortion rights advocates.
In Nebraska, a bill to ban most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — a strict prohibition that would outlaw the procedure before most women know they are pregnant — failed to advance in the state legislature, making it unlikely to move forward for the remainder of this year’s legislative session.
The bill fell one vote short of the 33 needed to advance after two senators did not vote. Gov. Jim Pillen, a Republican who had supported the bill, said after the vote that it was “unacceptable for senators to be present not voting on such a momentous vote.” Mr Pillen, who described himself as “a staunch defender of life,” said he was “profoundly disappointed” by the outcome.
In South Carolina, the Senate rejected a bill that would ban most abortions in the state. The House had already passed the bill, but the Senate’s five women — three Republicans — opposed it and spoke forcefully against it.

Why It Matters

If they had passed, the bills were likely to be signed into law by Republican governors and would have been a significant change for state residents. Currently, South Carolina and Nebraska allow abortion up to around 22 weeks.
“Nebraska politicians today voted to keep private health care decisions where they belong — in the exam room between a doctor and their patient,” said Andi Curry Grubb, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska.
Both states would have joined a growing list of Republican-dominated conditions with severe restrictions on abortion. So far, 14 states have active bans on nearly all abortions, though some allow exceptions for rape and danger to the mother’s life. Georgia and Florida also ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, but Florida’s ban is on hold pending a court challenge.
South Carolina has become a destination for women seeking abortions as its Southern neighbours have shut down access to abortion. The proposed ban would have prohibited abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with narrow exceptions for rape and incest before 12 weeks.
During a discussion of the bill, State Senator Mia McLeod, an independent, appealed to her colleagues to protect the rights of women and girls.

South Carolina and Nebraska’s Failed Bans

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, effectively sending the issue of regulation back to individual states. Over 600 abortion-related bills have been proposed this year in the states, and slightly more than half aim to restrict access to the procedure.
Republicans, however, have struggled to reach a consensus on how far abortion restrictions ought to go, and some in the G.O.P. see the issue as a political liability after midterm losses.
Measures that would have severely restricted abortion failed Thursday in Nebraska and South Carolina. Both have Republican-controlled legislatures, reflecting the growing unease among Republicans over the political popularity of strict bans.
In Nebraska, a “Heartbeat Act” would have banned most abortions after six weeks except in cases of rape or incest or to preserve the mother’s life once a “fetal heartbeat” was detected, but it stalled in the legislature. A vote to overcome a bill filibuster failed by 32-15, with two senators abstaining, including Republican state Sen. Merv Riepe – leaving the measure one vote shy of the two-thirds majority needed for full consideration. Riepe, a cosigner to the bill, had proposed an amendment to move the ban to 12 weeks instead of six weeks, but his amendment did not receive a vote Thursday.

Abortion Bans Fail in South Carolina and Nebraska

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, a Republican, said he was “profoundly disappointed” in the vote and called for the bill to be reconsidered.
“It is unacceptable for senators to be present not voting on such a momentous vote,” Pillen said in a statement on Thursday. “I call on Senator Merv Riepe to make a motion to reconsider and stand by the commitments to a life he has made in the past.”
Nebraska law currently prohibits most abortions starting at 20 weeks.
On Thursday afternoon, the South Carolina state Senate failed to pass the “Human Life Protection Act,” which would have banned abortions in the state, in a 22-21 vote, with five women voting against it – including three Republicans. The bill previously passed in the state House and included exceptions for incidents of rape or incest.

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Olivia Wilson

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