[image-1] [image-2] Senate Democrats lined up one by one to filibuster a bill that would have banned 97 percent of abortions in South Carolina until early Friday morning, when the Senate voted to send the bill back to committee.
The filibuster was led by Sen. Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston). According to The State, Kimpson took the podium for eight hours starting Thursday afternoon in an attempt to stall the vote on a bill that originally started as a ban on “dismemberment,” a rarely used abortion procedure.
Late Wednesday night, Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) suggested the more expansive abortion ban as an amendment to the dismemberment bill both to increase the bill’s chances of facing legal challenges and so that the upper chamber’s agenda could be cleared for more important matters, like the scuttled $9 billion nuclear reactors that ratepayers are still subsidizing in Fairfield County.
The proposed ban would have only allowed abortion in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother.
Kimpson’s speech was punctuated by a few funny moments, including a discussion on “side pieces” with fellow senators and a Chinese food delivery courtesy of a Planned Parenthood volunteer.
Senators voted 24-21 to send the bill back to committee at 1 a.m. Friday after Republicans tried, and failed, to stop the Democratic filibuster four times.
The vote to essentially kill the bill for the remainder of the legislative session, which ends in less than a week, overturned Wednesday night’s 28-10 vote in favor of the bill.
“I was surprised,” said gubernatorial candidate and Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, an unwavering pro-lifer, in an interview with The State. “I’ve never, in 14 years, been here this late two nights in a row where every member was here. It’s the first time.”
Sen. Kimpson was back at work at the Motley Rice law firm in Mt. Pleasant Friday morning. In a phone call with CP, he highlighted the sweeping nature of the Republican bill.
“In essence, we have spent an enormous amount of time debating a bill which would have essentially taken away a woman’s fundamental right to make a choice, to make decisions over her own body in consultation with her family, and doctor, and whomever the hell else she wants to consult.”
The senator says that his party has already been put “on notice” by Republicans who have promised similar bills in the next legislative session.
“Even this broad, sweeping bill effectively banning contraceptives, including birth control, was not enough for the extreme conservatives who are growing in number in the General Assembly,” he said. “More [bills] will be coming next year and we have to prepare to fight.”
Kimpson was referring to an amendment added Thursday morning that would have included bans on birth control and Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill. The amendment was also proposed by Democratic Sen. Hutto as a way to balloon what he saw as an unconstitutional bill that was at odds with the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade. That decision legalized abortion nationwide by affirming that the procedure is protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.
Sen. Margie Matthews (D-Colleton), who also participated in the filibuster, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CP.