Since the dark, insidious day that Donald Trump was installed as the 45th President of the United States, groups around the country have felt empowered to, ironically, hide behind their religion in order to allow a litany of laws subverting bodily autonomy on America’s most vulnerable citizens pass into law.
No group in this country has been attacked more viciously and regularly than women. Their reproductive choices have been under constant deliberation from the crusty white men in Washington and red state capitals who themselves will never experience pregnancy.
Republicans in South Carolina hoped to add their state to the growing list of places where those crusty old white men think they know best when it comes to a woman’s right to choose. They looked set to succeed, too, until Democrats in the state’s Senate stood their ground, according to South Carolina publication The State.
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While the rest of the world was sleeping, South Carolina Democrats held a filibuster for three long days. Republicans desperately tried to stick their own opinions between those of women and their doctors, but at 1:00 AM on Friday morning, they finally gave up.
The bill in question would have outlawed virtually all abortions in the Palmetto State, making exceptions only for cases of rape, incest, or serious medical emergencies. 97% of the roughly 5,700 annual abortions performed in the state would no longer be legal.
But, in the words of Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R), “we just didn’t have the votes.”
Republicans hoped to out-stamina Democrats, counting on members of the minority party to lose interest and leave the chamber. Republicans only needed a handful on Democrats to turn their backs on the women of South Carolina to get the three-fifths majority needed to return their state to the age of back-alley abortions.
Instead, South Carolina’s Democrats showed the rest of the country what it looks like to have a coherent message and deliver on their promises. Some even canceled travel and vacation plans to see out the end of this horrendous bill.
One Democrat, Sen. Gerald Malloy, was actually poised to leave Columbia Thursday night so that he could accompany his family to the Kentucky Derby. Instead, his wife, Davita, and his children persuaded him to stay.
He told The State, “It was more important to her and the women in this state that I stay.”
Though many Republicans decried this victory as a “defeat for the unborn,” some saw the fight as futile and chose instead to side with Democrats so the Senate could focus on more pressing matters affecting the state. Republican Senators Shane Massey of Edgefield, Luke Rankin of Horry, Chip Campsen of Charleston, Katrina Shealy of Lexington, Greg Gregory of Lancaster, and Hugh Leatherman of Florence crossed party lines and voted with Democrats to end the debate.
The 24-21 vote banished the bill back to committee, killing it for the remainder of 2018.
Most importantly, the novel idea that no one knows how better to handle a pregnancy than the pregnant woman herself won out in South Carolina today.
Writing that sentence in 2018 is painful and confusing, but in Trump’s America, every victory is worth celebrating.