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Five Women (Including Three Republicans) Just Stopped an Atrocious Anti-Abortion Bill in South Carolina from Passing

by Emily Lauletta

Despite living in a country where the status of reproductive rights continues to be  increasingly uncertain, we were finally given some good news regarding abortion rights activism.

On Thursday, the South Carolina legislature failed to pass a truly horrendous anti-abortion bill. The bill, which was deceptively titled “Human Life Protection Act,” would have totally banned abortions in the state, with some exceptions for rape and incest. 

Thankfully, five South Carolina Senators (who are all women) stopped the Bill from passing. Surprisingly, three of these women are Republicans, and one was a member of the  Independent party. The women also utilized the filibuster to halt the Bill. A filibuster is a way to delay the vote on a bill, usually done by talking a lot.  During their filibusters, each of the senators made speeches about the idiocracy, danger, and patriarchy that the Bill is upholding. One of the Republican Senators, Sen. Penry Gustafson, spoke for a half an hour about the bodily changes that accompany pregnancy. Interestingly, Gustafson has maintained that she is pro-life, but was appalled that the Bill left “no room for empathy, reality or graciousness.”

Another Republican senator who voted no on the Bill, Sen. Sandy Senn, stated during her filibuster “The only thing that we can do when you all, you men in the chamber, metaphorically keep slapping women by raising abortion again and again and again, is for us to slap you back with our words.” We never thought we’d be cheering at a speech given by a Republican, but here we are.

Independent Sen. Mia McLeod also made a great point in her speech, detailing how unfortunate it is that women have to plead with men and discuss their intimate personal experiences just for them not vote yes on a life-destroying Bill. This speech came after the Senator shared her own experiences with sexual assault.

Sen. Katrina Frye Shealy, another Republican who voted ‘no’, called attention to the atrocious implications of a Bill like this. She stated, “Once a woman became pregnant for any reason, she would now become property of the state of South Carolina if the ‘Human Life Protection Act’ were [to] come into law.” Senator Shealy outlined an important aspect of the rise of anti-abortion legislation; bills such as the Human Life Protection Actare not truly about protecting life, but stripping people, particularly those with multiple marginalized identities, of their bodily autonomy.

On the bright side, the downfall of the Human Life Protection Act gives us some hope that Americans (even Republicans) are capable of coming together to prevent human suffering. We hope that these senators will continue to make informed, educated decisions that benefit the majority of Americans in the future.

Top photo by Ethan Gregory Dodge on Unsplash

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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