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 South Carolina senators on Thursday rejected a near total ban on almost all abortions, but Republicans pushed some changes for an existing six-week ban, such as narrowing exceptions for rape and incest from 20 weeks to 12 weeks.

“This bill was passed by men who believe they know best — men who believe they should have full control over women’s bodies and private medical decisions,” said Vicki Ringer, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, late Thursday. “Patients and providers alike are experiencing a lot of confusion and fear as politicians play politics with people’s lives. 

“This bill insults South Carolina doctors, questioning their expertise and interfering in best practices, and will only exacerbate an already devastating shortage of doctors in our state. Make no mistake: No matter how many exceptions are written into this dangerous bill, it will cause chaos in the health care system and result in people being denied life-saving care. We’re talking about a fundamental human right, and no amount of amendments make this bill acceptable.”

The upper chamber’s action came after two days of floor debate on a Senate bill that nearly banned all abortions without exceptions. Democrats in the Senate often stood by strategically during debate to let Republicans battle over the bill as a handful of Republicans refused to vote on a bill without exceptions. When GOP leaders realized they weren’t going to break a filibuster by S.C. Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, over the bill’s lack of exceptions, they circled the wagons and modified the state’s existing abortion ban.

South Carolina’s current “fetal heartbeat” ban, which narrowly limits abortion with exceptions for rape and incest after about six weeks, was triggered into law after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned federal Roe v. Wade protections in June. That measure, however, has been suspended by a state judge’s injunction pending settlement of a lawsuit.

The revamped Senate bill with narrower exceptions passed Thursday now returns to the House, which last week passed a near total ban with exceptions for rape and incest.

In other headlines: 

Matthews urged to resign after leaked recording. The state Republican Party and some S.C. Democrats want S.C. Rep. Krystle Matthews to resign as the Democratic candidate challenging GOP U.S. Sen. Tim Scott after a recording of what it says is racially-charged rhetoric.

Former Commerce, business leader Charlie Way passes. Former South Carolina Commerce Secretary and businessman Charles S. Way of Charleston has passed away at 84. His philanthropic and civic endeavors across the state have left a large impact with many business owners, schools and politicians.

Students across state show post-pandemic disruptions in learning. Results from SC READY and SCPASS test scores have come back, revealing that many students across the state continue to struggle. Test scores in English and Language Arts have shown an increase, but scores in math, science and social studies fields have decreased. Meanwhile, test scores in Charleston County have seen a small rebound in scores, showing recent improvements among students in the area.

Firing squad, electric chair are unconstitutional for executions, judge rules.  Using a firing squad or electric chair for executions in South Carolina is unconstitutional, Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman ruled Tuesday in a case brought by four death row inmates. The case is likely to be appealed by the state quickly. The judge wrote, “In 2021, South Carolina turned back the clock and became the only state in the country in which a person may be forced into the electric chair if he refuses to elect how he will die. In doing so, the General Assembly ignored advances in scientific research and evolving standards of humanity and decency.”

Covid update.  State health officials reported 12,335 new cases of Covid-19 between Aug. 28-Sept. 3. As of Sept. 7, there were 516 people who were hospitalized with Covid, 18 of whom were on ventilators. A week earlier, there were 533 people hospitalized, 27 of whom were on ventilators, state officials said.

S.C. animal shelters need space. South Carolina animal shelters have been facing a need for space over the past several months as many shelters can’t keep up with the intake of animals, reaching what the Charleston Animal Society calls “a breaking point.” Some shelters have resorted to euthanizing animals for space, despite a statewide effort for no kill shelters across the state. In previous coverage, the Charleston Animal Society recently launched a special program to get large dogs adopted because of an influx into its North Charleston shelter.


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