Proposed abortion bans in two solid red states each failed by one vote this week, after being torpedoed by several Republicans who refused to vote for the pro-life measures.
In Nebraska, a six-week abortion ban could not reach the 33 votes it needed to get past a filibuster after a 32-15 vote in the state Senate and one Republican abstained from voting. In South Carolina, three Republican women led a filibuster against a bill called the “Human Life Protection Act,” leading the vote to fail 22-21.
In the Cornhusker State, Sen. Merv Riepe, who had attempted to change the bill to a 12-week ban, abstained from voting on the six-week ban, earning the condemnation of Republican Governor Jim Pillen.
“I am profoundly disappointed in the cloture vote today,” Pillen said. “It is unacceptable for senators to be present not voting on such a momentous vote. I call on Senator Merv Riepe to make a motion to reconsider and stand by the commitments to life he has made in the past.”
“We must embrace the future of reproductive rights,” Reipe claimed, saying that the six-week ban is too early because some women might not know that they are pregnant at that time.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska executive director Andi Curry Grubb celebrated the failure of the bill, saying that the vote was a “huge victory for abortion access in Nebraska, the Midwest, and for the country.”
A video shared on Twitter by Sen. Megan Hunt showed a group of women cheering, waving, hugging, and crying after the pro-life measure failed.
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Speechless. Thank you. Abortion is legal in Nebraska. pic.twitter.com/56UgThZoo5
— Senator Megan Hunt (@NebraskaMegan) April 27, 2023
In South Carolina, five women (three Republicans, a Democrat, and an Independent) led the charge against the abortion ban, which would ban abortion from conception, making it the third time the body has failed to increase protections for the unborn since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Republican Sen. Penry Gustafson said that the proposed bill had “no room for empathy, reality or graciousness” but that she was still “pro-life.”
Another Republican, Sen. Sandy Senn, accused the Republican men of “metaphorically” slapping the women in the chamber because of the bill and compared it to “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
“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,” she said.
Senn has helped blocked similar legislation in the past, previously taking aim at the chamber’s “white males.” The other Republican who helped lead the charge against the bill was Sen. Katrina Shealy. The three other Republicans who joined the Democrats were Sen. Tom Davis, Sen. Greg Hembree, and Sen. Luke Rankin.
After the failure of the bill, abortion is still legal in the state through 22 weeks, making it a popular destination for women who want abortions in nearby conservative states.
Earlier this month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Heartbeat Protection Act into law late Thursday night, which prohibits abortions in the state once an unborn child has a detectable heartbeat. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum also just signed a six-week abortion ban into law, with exceptions for rape, incest, and medical emergency during that time.