COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A shocking, late-night vote by senators left some constituents and lobbyists stunned when they awoke to the news early Thursday morning.
In a surprising turn of events, the Senate changed the bill, H. 3548, from a measure to ban a certain type of abortion into a bill that would ban virtually all abortions in South Carolina.
The maneuver came after hours of frustrating debate on Wednesday night. Democrat Brad Hutto (D- Orangeburg) had been filibustering to block the bill; when he challenged Republicans to just outright ban abortion, they rose to the occasion. Now, some senators are ready to pass the bill and have South Carolina challenge Roe v.Wade. The changes to H.3548 would make exceptions to an all-out abortion ban for cases of rape, incest, or when a mother's life is in danger.
"You shouldn't be justifying that some people are more justified to have more control over their body than others. It truly should be a woman's choice," the Women's Rights and Empowerment Network's (WREN) Ashley Lidow said Thursday.
Lidow is fighting against the abortion ban.
The bill began as the proposal to end what some senators label as 'dismemberment' abortions. A doctor tells WIS-TV that's not a medical term, but it means the procedure known as 'dilation and evacuation' when a fetus is removed in pieces by forceps. The obstetrician says the 'dismemberment' operation is rare and is used only under certain health situations where the mother is at risk or the baby is not likely to survive.
The Palmetto Family Council is against abortion but is more supportive of the original version of the bill. Briley Hughes told WIS-TV on Thursday that he would support an abortion ban, and "if the bill does that, then we'd certainly like to see that pass. We're a little skeptical of its ability to get through the court system and so we really were in favor of the original dismemberment abortion ban."
Hughes, like others, is doubtful a challenge of Roe v. Wade would hold up in court; he says a strategy of "chipping away" at abortion little by little could make better progress.
Meanwhile, Governor Henry McMaster said he would sign any bill that limits abortion.
"Sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in. I think there's nothing wrong with that bill, and any bill that reduces abortion I am for and I will sign," McMaster said on Thursday morning.
But WREN is gathering women to stand with them against any ban.
"Being able to choose if when and how you have children is very crucial to your educational attainment, your economic stability,
your ability to make decisions based on basically every aspect of your life," said Lidow, outraged after the 'dismemberment' bill morphed into a more stringent stand against abortion.
"That human inside is a human being and deserves the rights that any human being like you and me that's provided morally and within our Constitution," Hughes disagreed.
The House Majority Leader Gary Simrill (R- York) warns the House of Representatives won't vote in favor of the Senate's transformation of the abortion bill, which threatens it's chance of passing. "The
Hutto amendment is a diversion from the real issue of protecting unborn children from a barbaric procedure that allows for dismemberment in the womb. Unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, the General Assembly must work within existing parameters to increase protections
for the life of the unborn rather than knowingly pass unconstitutional legislation. If the Senate sends the bill back to the House, our members will non-concur and work out the challenges in a conference committee," explained Simrill.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says that in 2017, there were 5,112 abortions performed. According to DHEC, 16 of those were performed using the 'dilation and evacuation' procedure.