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Republicans help Democratic minority block near-total abortion ban in South Carolina

Five Republicans in South Carolina’s state senate have joined the Democratic minority to reject a near-total abortion ban, thwarting the controlling party’s intention to capitalize on the supreme court’s decision to overturn federal protections for the procedure.

Their opposition at a special session called on Thursday to approve a restrictive bill passed earlier in the South Carolina House meant Republicans lacked enough votes in the upper chamber, which they control 30-16, to end a filibuster.

State senate majority leader Shane Massey called a recess to discuss options after it became clear the near-total abortion proposal could not pass, and Republicans had to settle instead on a number of tweaks to the state’s existing six-week ban.

They include cutting the time that pregnant victims of rape and incest have to seek an abortion from 20 weeks to about 12 weeks, and requiring that DNA from an aborted fetus is retained for law enforcement.

The bill now heads back to the house, which passed a total ban with exceptions only for rape or incest.

The statewide six-week ban, meanwhile, is currently suspended while the South Carolina supreme court weighs whether it breaches privacy laws.

One of the most vocal Republican opponents to the measure was Tom Davis, ex-chief of staff to former governor Mark Sanford, who was joined by three female and one male colleague.

Davis said he promised his daughters he would not vote to make restrictions even tighter.

“The moment we become pregnant we lose all control over what goes on with our bodies,” Davis said, recalling what his daughters told him.

“I’m here to tell you I’m not going to let it happen.”

And in Michigan, the state’s supreme court ruled on Thursday that voters will decide in November if the constitution will be amended to protect abortion rights. The move was a victory for pro-choice advocates who wanted the option on midterms ballot papers.

In deeply conservative Kansas last month, voters chose overwhelmingly to protect abortion rights, fueling Democrats’ hope for a sweeping nationwide backlash to the supreme court’s Roe v Wade ruling.

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