Abortion bans in two deep red states have failed as Republicans across the country weigh tempering their stance on the issue amid concerns over future electoral prospects.
Nebraska and South Carolina were unable to advance abortion legislation after the bills failed to get enough votes in the legislature.
Currently in Nebraska, abortion is allowed up to 20 weeks. Yesterday’s vote to end debate so the legislation on a six-week abortion ban could proceed to a final round of debate failed 32-15, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Thirty-three votes were needed to pass.
State Sen. Merv Riepe, an 80-year-old Republican who cosigned the bill and is normally considered a reliable pro-life lawmaker, abstained.
Riepe, who previously objected to a 6-week ban arguing that most women don’t know they’re pregnant until week six, filed an amendment to extend the ban to 12 weeks.
However, State Sen. Joni Albrecht, the bill’s author, said the 6-week bill was already a compromise from the original wording which sought to ban abortion from the time of conception. As the AP noted, Albrecht called it “the friendliest pro-life bill out there.”
“This bill is about one thing,” she said. “It’s protecting babies with beating hearts from elective abortion.”
South Carolina senators, on the same day, failed to pass an abortion bill, also by a single vote. The legislation would have banned abortion from the moment of conception, with exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, and to save the life of the mother.
The day before the vote, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster called on legislators to pass a bill “the vast majority of our state” finds acceptable, the AP reported.
Republicans across the country have been re-evaluating how they want to address and message on the issue of abortion after polls have consistently shown larger numbers of Americans opposed to restrictions in the wake of last year’s historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
The Court’s decision fired up left-leaning and younger voters who showed up in greater numbers than expected in the 2022 midterm elections and recent special elections.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Judge Daniel Kelly’s 11-point blowout loss in this month’s special election is largely attributed to abortion, which motivated large swaths of Democrats to flock to the polls and cast ballots for his opponent Janet Protasiewicz.
“When you’re losing by ten points there is a messaging issue and abortion is still an issue and we can’t allow Democrats to define Republicans and put millions of dollars up in lies and have it go unanswered because the lies become the truth if they go unanswered,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said after Kelly’s loss.