South Carolina Republicans Back Down From Abortion Restrictions to Pass Budget
The South Carolina legislature approved a nearly $5 billion state budget yesterday that includes a provision allowing the state health insurance plan to cover abortions in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's life is in danger. The budget was held up in the state House, but passed on a 64 to 54 vote on the last day of the session after Republicans who had been blocking passage compromised on the abortion language. According to the Statehouse Watch, the Republicans agreed to vote for the budget because of promises that legislative priorities next year will include a bill instituting a 24 hour waiting period for abortions and legislation to end abortion coverage in instances of rape and incest in the state health insurance plan.
Once in the Senate, an initial Senate vote ended in a tie, but the budget was cleared on a 22 to 16 second vote as the legislature narrowly met a 5:00pm mandatory deadline to end their legislative session. Governor Mark Sanford (R) will now consider the budget and potentially issue vetoes
Currently a bill instituting a 24 hour waiting period has been stalled in committee due to disagreements between the House and Senate. While both chambers passed versions of the bill in March, the Associated Press reports that the two disagree on how to calculate the one day waiting period. The House bill begins counting the time when the patient receives an ultrasound, while the Senate proposal allows women to download information about the procedure online and time-stamp it 24 hours before their appointment.