The abortion debate retook center stage this week in the S.C. General Assembly.
Last summer and fall, all my newsletters featured legislative efforts to further restrict abortions in South Carolina following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade which established that each state has the right to set its laws regarding abortions. Theirs was the correct decision – most legal scholars agree that the Roe v. Wade ruling a half-century ago was blatantly unconstitutional, with the federal government denying states their rightful authority.
Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice
Two years ago, months before the Roe decision, the Legislature passed the Fetal Heartbeat Bill, which was quickly signed into law and limited abortions after a heartbeat is detected around six weeks into pregnancy. Pro-choice advocates immediately challenged that law.
Following the Roe decision, Legislature frequently met to craft more stringent abortion legislation. The Senate and the House couldn’t agree and ended the last legislative session in October with no resolution.
Then, last month, the S.C. Supreme Court dropped the hammer by ruling the Heartbeat law was unconstitutional because it violated a woman’s right to privacy in the state constitution. That ruling brought S.C.’s abortion law under the 2016 law allowing abortions through 22 weeks (Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act), resulting in S.C. becoming the most abortion-friendly state in the Southeast. There are claims that abortions in our state doubled in January thanks to many out-of-state residents flocking here.
That State Supreme Court decision triggered immediate action by the House and Senate. A week ago, Republicans in the Senate approved a new six-week abortion ban they hope will withstand the next court challenge.
However, in the House, ardent pro-life Representatives insist they will accept nothing less than an all-out ban on abortion starting at conception.
The bill we debated this week (Human Life Protection Act H.3774) while banning abortions at conception, is an improvement over the legislation the House sent to the Senate last October because it allows exceptions to save the mother’s life or prevent serious, lifelong health problems. It also will enable abortions if the fetus isn’t expected to survive outside the womb or in cases where the pregnancy results from rape or incest, though only through the first trimester.
Right-wing hardliners tried numerous attempts to amend the bill, including criminalizing women who have an abortion and physicians who perform abortions while stripping out the exemptions in the legislation. We, sensible legislators, rejected those attempts.
The final vote was 83-31, mostly along party lines, to ban abortions at conception, with limited exceptions.
Tilting at Windmills
Don Quixote unknowingly may have been describing the abortion jousting between the S.C. House and Senate. We seem to be back to the stalemate that scuttled last fall’s legislative efforts.
The political reality is the Senate doesn’t have the votes to go beyond a six-week abortion ban. According to one legislative observer, in recent months, the Senate has voted nine times to reject an all-out abortion ban. Therefore, the House vote this week appears merely symbolic.
To be clear, I’m pro-life and believe life begins at conception. I’m also politically pragmatic – a self-imposed requirement to be a Representative. I am responsible for solving problems, not always getting my way. That means compromise, which is viewed as unacceptable by some.
What is UNACCEPTABLE is the current 22-week abortion ban. Each day, more babies are aborted because the Legislature fails to find a compromise.
The ‘Absolutists,’ my colleagues who seek a total ban on abortions, are highly principled but insist they must have their way. They have left South Carolina in its current abortion predicament and mired in a legislative stalemate.
Will the ‘Absolutists’ quit “tilting at windmills” and agree to compromise? Will they continue to fight for their only solution – a total abortion ban – while more babies are being aborted? Polling shows that most South Carolinians seek a practical solution to this issue. We are sent to the Statehouse to represent best the people that sent us there. It’s time to solve this issue.
Next week, the House of Representatives will debate Constitutional Carry legislation. That bill would allow South Carolinians to carry a handgun without a government permit legally. The bill would make S.C. the 26th state to approve this legislation, as did our neighbor Georgia last year. Supporters argue that law-abiding adults should be able to carry a gun without government permission – a right embodied in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The House has passed similar legislation every session, then sends it to the Senate, where it dies.
Higher Ed Budgets
In serving on the House Ways & Means Higher Education Subcommittee, I believe it is essential to see the needs of S.C.’s 32 public colleges and universities requesting taxpayer funds. Two weeks ago, I visited The Citadel, and Thursday, I toured S.C. State University in Orangeburg, our state’s only public historically black university (HBCU).
University President Alex Conyers and his leadership team escorted me on my campus tour. The sprawling campus is well-maintained, showing the pride of students and staff in taking care of their home. What is sorely lacking are modern educational facilities. Academic classrooms and older dormitories are right out of the 1950s. I have toured old elementary schools in similar conditions; most have been torn down and replaced by up-to-date structures that enhance learning. S.C. State has been overlooked in receiving adequate state-building funds for decades.
Under President Conyers’ leadership and a highly focused Board of Trustees, S.C. State has its financial books in a solid position to operate. Still, it is going to need assistance in upgrading campus facilities. There are more than 10,000 student applications for the incoming first-year class. Those students could choose other universities that have modern facilities.
PHOTOS OF THE WEEK
The STARS shined brightly at the S.C. Statehouse Tuesday when USC-Aiken’s Student Ambassadors met with the Aiken County Legislative Delegation members. It was part of the annual Carolina Day at the Capitol.
UP & COMING AIKEN COUNTY LEADERS
Aiken County legislators were pleased to meet the 2023 Aiken County Leadership Class during their visit to the Statehouse. Every year a new leadership class visits us to learn about the legislative process and ask probing questions. This class didn’t disappoint.
Robin Hood Would be Envious!
The Pelion Elementary School Archery Team has proven to zero in on its targets. They are WORLD CHAMPIONS! The archers won the S.C. State Championship in 2021 & 2022, the National Championship in 2022, then two months later, they were victorious in the World Archery Championship held in Pennsylvania. The S.C. House of Representatives honored the team and their supportive coaches and parents. The Pelion rural area is now part of House District 86, which I serve.
Annual United Way Day at the Statehouse
Aiken County legislators were proud to stand with Aiken County United Way leaders Sharon Rodgers and Ellen Lutton during their annual legislative luncheon at the Statehouse.
Want to Know More?
Do you want to learn more about my positions, bill sponsorships, voting record, and past writings? Here are some handy links:
- About Me: https://taylorschouse.com/about-2/
- My Positions: https://taylorschouse.com/issues/
- Sponsored Bill & Voting Record: http://tiny.cc/b1pouz
- Recent Newsletters: https://taylorschouse.com/category/newsletter/
I’m Available & AT YOUR SERVICE
It is my honor to be of service. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need assistance navigating state government or have any thoughts or concerns about the legislature.
In Your Service,
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