A legislation that would have banned nearly all abortions in South Carolina has been rejected in the Senate following a filibuster by Democratic lawmakers.
According to the Post and Courier, the Senate voted 24–21 to send the bill back to the committee, effectively tabling the bill for a whole year.
The original version of the legislation was only aimed at banning dismemberment abortions, but it was later amended to ban all abortions except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the life of the mother.
Following an initial vote of 24–1 in favor of the bill, Democratic lawmakers started a filibuster with Sen. Marlon Kimpson holding the floor for nearly eight hours.
Sen. Gerald Malloy of Hartsville noted that the Democrats were prepared to stay if the filibuster lasted until the weekend. "We were right there on pins and needles until the very end," he said, as reported by The Associated Press.
The Republicans had hoped that some Democrats would abandon the filibuster, but it went on until the bill was sent back to committee.
Kimpson remarked that Republicans "knew we had the firepower to go all night and into the next day." "We had our minds made up and were working effectively as a team," he added.
Critics of the bill claimed that there were provisions that could be read as a prohibition on many forms of birth control. Pro-life groups believe that such claims have ruined the bill's chances of getting passed.
"Once the debate shifted from stopping the savage, uncivilized dismembering of living unborn children, and was turned into a specious and untruthful argument over Republicans wanting to outlaw birth control, the dismemberment abortion ban bill was doomed," Holly Gatling, executive director of South Carolina Citizens for Life, said, as reported by The Associated Press.
Republican Sen. Katrina Shealy explained that she opted to send the bill back to the Medical Affairs Committee because she saw it as the only way to break up the standoff that prevents the Senate from getting anything done before the end of the session on Thursday.
"We didn't have a way out. We couldn't have gotten out of that with a can of gasoline and a match," she said, according to Post and Courier.
Other issues that are still awaiting consideration in the Senate include measures involving the failed $9 billion nuclear power project in Fairfield County.
Members of the South Carolina Senate are expected to return to the floor on Tuesday, with only three days left in the legislative session. Any bills that are not passed at the end of the session will have to be cleared and has to be introduced again at the start of the next session in January, according to The Associated Press.