South Carolina’s Democratic state senators held strong the night of May 4th in a filibuster that ended up sending legislation that would have banned most abortions in the state back to committee, effectively killing it for the year.
It was a dramatic victory for Democrats who firmly believe in the woman’s right to make their own personal decisions and a defeat for Republicans who would send our state back to the pre- Roe vs. Wade dark ages with their abortion ban bill.
“It’s like being down by eight in the bottom of the ninth inning and you’re able to get on a hitting streak at the end to pull it out,” said Sen. Mike Fanning (D-Fairfield). “It is mind-boggling and extremely relieving.”
Republicans were confident that Democrats would give up their filibuster, especially when they threatened to keep the Senate in session over the weekend. But they misjudged the commitment and determination of Democratic senators.
“We just walked the frickin’ plank,” said Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R-Edgefield).
For six hours, Sen. Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston) held the floor Thursday before turning the podium over to Sens. Margie Bright Matthews (D-Walterboro) and Fanning, who continued for the rest of the evening.
Finally, at nearly 1 a.m. Friday, five Republicans joined the Democrats to send the abortion ban bill back to committee. They were Chip Campsen of Charleston, Katrina Shealy of Lexington, Hugh Leatherman of Florence, Greg Gregory of Lancaster and Luke Rankin of Conway. Rankin said he voted to end the debate so the Senate could get on to other pressing issues before the end of the session.
At 1 a.m., Sen. Kimpson tweeted:
“The abortion ban in SC is no longer. After hours of filibuster, the bill has now been recommitted to committee. Women will continue to have the right to choose and make their own personal decisions about their bodies in consultation with their families and doctors.”
Of the Democrats, Rankin said, “They were here en masse with no defection.”
Rallying Democrats to Kill the Abortion Ban Bill
While the debate was underway, SC Democratic Chair Trav Robertson was rallying Democrats to come to Columbia Friday to support the filibustering senators. He sent this urgent email:
We need you in the morning. I hope you got our message from earlier this afternoon about supporting the #MarlonBuster that the Senator from Charleston is leading to kill this terrible bill. H. 3548 would have devastating consequences for women’s reproductive health in South Carolina and we must do everything we can to defeat it.
The Republicans in the Senate have just passed a motion that would take the extraordinary step of bringing the Senate back at 10 AM tomorrow morning to continue this debate. Rest assured, the #MarlonBuster is still going strong tonight, but we need you to join us tomorrow morning at 10 AM to pack the gallery of the Senate. The Senate Democrats are making us proud tonight and let’s be sure to show them the support they deserve tomorrow.
I’ll see you in the morning!
But after it was over, Robertson was able to send out this email:
Early Friday morning, the South Carolina Senate voted to send H. 3548 back to Committee, likely killing it’s chances of making it out of the Senate during the session.
We asked you to support our amazing Senators and you delivered with a win.
During their final votes tonight, the Senate also moved to not reconvene until Tuesday, so it will be quiet at the State House on Friday morning. Instead of showing up at 10 AM, we hope you’ll join us in calling our Democratic Senators to say thank you for all of their hard work on this terrible bill. You can find their numbers here. They made us proud tonight!
It’s a great day for women in South Carolina.
Indeed, it is. It’s a great example of what we Democrats can do if we stick together as we fight for the rights of all, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or any other difference. We need to remember the words of Sen. Massey and help the GOP “walk the frickin’ plank’ in the general election November 6.
Do don’t forget: Register to vote and then please vote, both in the June 12 primary and the November 6 general election.
By Don Kohn