Pro-life bills fail in GOP-controlled South Carolina, Nebraska

by Jacob Fuller

Matt Bush, FISM News

Lawmakers in Nebraska and South Carolina had the opportunity to pass bills that would have severely restricted abortions and protected unborn children in both states. Both measures failed.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned almost one year ago, states were left with the task of passing their own abortion laws and activists from both sides of the aisle have been vocal about what they believe. GOP lawmakers in South Carolina and Nebraska had clear paths to enacting stricter bans on abortion this week, but they were unsuccessful.

A recent Gallup poll showed that 55% of Americans consider themselves “pro-choice” or pro-abortion while only about 39% of Americans consider themselves pro-life.

As FISM recently reported, lawmakers are having to choose between the moral question of pursuing political power or standing up for what they believe and protecting the unborn.


In Nebraska, the bill known as the “Heartbeat Act” would have banned most abortions after six week, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Abortions in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life were not included in the ban.

Going into Thursday, it seemed certain to many that the bill would garner the 33 votes needed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, but it did not.

Nebraska is unique in America in that its legislative branch is unicameral. Made up of just a state Senate, Republicans hold a 32-17 majority in the legislative branch of the state. With State Sen. Mike McDonnell (D) of Omaha already voting for the measure, all that was needed was for the 32 Republicans who already supported the bill to vote.

Republican State Sen. Merv Riepe, a cosponsor of the bill, abstained from voting on the measure. According to AP, Riepe had introduced an amendment that would have extended the proposed ban from six to 12 weeks after expressing concern that women might not even know they are pregnant within the six-week time.

“We must embrace the future of reproductive rights,” Riepe said as he urged fellow Republicans to heed signs that “abortion will galvanize women to vote them out of office.” He even pointed to his own race for Senate that tightened up considerably after Roe was overturned.

“The most important time and privilege for me as your governor is that we get this across the finish line, and today is the start,” Gov. Jim Pillen (R) said, making it clear that had Riepe held to his initial beliefs the bill would have been signed into law.


In South Carolina, the vote was for the “Human Life Protection Act,” and would have banned abortion at conception with exceptions for rape or incest through the first trimester, fatal fetal anomalies confirmed by two physicians, and to save the patient’s life or health.

The House passed the measure by an 83-31 vote but failed the Senate by a single vote, 22-21. Six Republicans joined all Democrats in voting against the bill.

South Carolina, like every other state in America other than Nebraska, has a State House and Senate. In the House, Republicans hold an 88-36 majority and a 30-16 majority in the Senate.

According to Life News, Republicans had the votes to pass the measure that would have probably been signed by GOP Gov. Henry McMaster, but Republican Sen. Sand Senn had other ideas.

A Life News article states about Sen. Senn, “The Republican legislator got four other GOP lawmakers together and filibustered the bill, killing it for the legislative session.”

Republican Senate leader Shane Massey said that it appears impossible that the Senate would pass the bill and urged leaders to look into a less restrictive “heartbeat bill” that had already passed in the Senate.

After the failed votes, abortions remain legal in South Carolina through 22 weeks of pregnancy and in Nebraska through 20 weeks.