Screen shot from State Senator Mia McLeod's Twitter account of South Carolina's "Sister Senators"

The Bipartisan South Carolina ‘Sister Senators’ Unite Again to Fight Restrictive Abortion Bill

South Carolina State Senator Sandy Senn is a Republican woman fighting yet another legislative attempt to “shackle women” along side with her “Sister Senators.”

You might recall Senn from her April speech, in which she and four other women lawmakers (three Republicans, an Independent and one Democrat) united to filibuster a near total abortion ban. They’ve stopped various abortion bills from passing three times since Roe was overturned, rather surprisingly leaving ruby red South Carolina as somewhat of a safe haven for women right now.

The group is comprised of Sen. Mia McLeod (I-Richland), Sen. Katrina Shealy (R-Lexington), Sen. Penry Gustafson (R-Kershaw), Sen. Margie Bright-Matthews (D-Colleton), and Sen. Sandy Senn (R-Charleston). They’re at it again as yet another abortion vote looms as early as Tuesday.

Three times Senn and the bipartisan group have “hustled to thwart what she views as attempts to ‘shackle women,'” the Washington Post reported Monday. “The group — three Republicans, an independent and a Democrat, who call themselves the ‘Sister Senators’ — filibustered for three days last month to defeat a near-total ban.

“Even if we don’t agree with abortion, most of us agree with giving women some kind of escape hatch,” Senn said. “My male colleagues are taking the wrong approach. We’re going to lose people in the Republican Party.”

The “Sister Senators” represent not just a gender divide, as it is being reported, but an incredible shift toward unity on basic concepts of freedom and human rights.

Senn, a die hard Republican, said during the April filibuster, “Abortion laws, each and every one of them, have been about control. It’s always about control, plain and simple. And in the senate, the males all have control. We, the women, have not asked for … nor do we want your protection. We don’t need it. There is not a single thing I can do when women such as me are insulted except make sure that you get an earful.”

As the world feels like it’s fraying at the seams, these moments of hope are important.

Long before Republicans decided to politicize abortion as a get out the vote tool, it was not seen as a political issue. Their decision to turn a private medical issue into a culture war pushed them to label abortion “murder,” which galvanized their supporters in its extreme belief, but did not leave them any room to make compromises.

If abortion is murder, then it can’t be allowed under any circumstances; which means legally women are less than full human beings and citizens in the United States, whose bodies can be used by the state. There simply isn’t any room in the position Republicans carved out to make common sense law that allows women freedom and dignity. Even now, as they lie about late term abortion in order to whip up emotion over fact, they are unable to handle the reality that late term abortion does not exist.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines late term as 41 weeks – 41 weeks + 6 days, and abortion does not happen in this period. To restrict medically necessary procedures at this stage is to put the mother’s life at risk. No one is carrying a pregnancy to term and then choosing to get an abortion. It does not happen.

Abortion is a medical freedom won because it was a necessity for women to be free beings. Abortion is considered a human right around the globe.

The Sister Senators represent what is best about our country and show that there are some extremes that will cause a rethink, even in small groups, that can have ripple effects.

These five women have staved off extreme near total bans in South Carolina by sticking together, across the aisle. Even if they are not successful on Tuesday, they have shown that change is possible and our country could possibly find its way back together.

Image: Mia McLeod Twitter

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