Republican leadership in the Legislature was eager to pass a ban that could challenge a state Supreme Court ruling from January. The judge who wrote that decision was the only woman on the bench, and she made numerous references to expanding rights for women since Roe was decided in 1973.
But she retired shortly after and was replaced by a man, making South Carolina the only state with an all-male high court.
The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America celebrated the bill’s passage, thanking South Carolina Republicans for their “perseverance.”
“This action will save thousands of lives each year, enriching the lives of others and the state of South Carolina,” said Caitlin Connors, the group’s southern regional director.
Republicans, including women who tried to introduce the bill, were concerned about the rising number of abortions in the state since other Southern states enacted prohibitions. According to state health officials, about half of all abortions in recent months involved residents of other states.
In the days leading up to the debate, Republican Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey declared that South Carolina had become the “abortion capital of the Southeast.”
“Pro-members of the Senate believe this is unacceptable,” he said.
Ahead of a final vote Tuesday evening, the six-week ban was strongly condemned by female Republican senators and their Democratic colleagues.
“When you wake up, when your sisters wake up, when your daughters wake up, you want to know who took away your rights, and it’s the Republicans,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Brad Hutto.