SC Voters reject 3 women who blocked pro life legislation

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David Hucks
David Hucks
David Hucks is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at

Earlier this year, no more than three Republican women in the Senate were able to defeat a near-total pro life bill in South Carolina, but two lost and one is now heading for a runoff in their elections after Tuesday’s primary.

After joining with Democratic women to defeat the measure, the senators – who won the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award for people who risk their careers for the greater good – suffered two losses and a runoff, arguing that S.C.’s pro life legislation went too far.

In 2012, there were only men in the Senate, and there will be no Republican woman in the chamber in 2025. There are just two Democratic women.

“This is a slap in the face for women,” said Lexington County Sen. Katrina Shealy, who is preparing for a runoff. “Republican women lose like this over one issue when we fought so hard for other issues.”

S.C. voters clearly believed it was an important issue.

A bucking of the tide

Despite a trend of second thoughts about more restrictive abortion laws, voters on Tuesday rejected them.

In statewide polls, a near-total ban does not have wide support. However, turnout was low and races were in Republican districts, where experts say voters are more passionate about abortion.

When cardiac activity is detected around six weeks after conception, the state eventually implements a ban.

It’s easier to fight mini battles than to fight a whole statewide war, said Dave Wilson, who worked with abortion opponents groups. In mini battles, voters can turn around and say they aren’t happy with the stance you took and the way you went about it. It doesn’t take a lot of them.


In her sole opponent’s view, Allen Blackman, who believes life begins at conception, but he feels abortion wasn’t the only reason Penry Gustafson lost. In a newly redrawn district, Gustafson received less than 20% of the vote, even though her base no longer included her, and constituents complained she didn’t solve their problems.

In South Carolina, a recount is rarely enough to alter a race by more than a few votes, since Senn lost by 31 votes to state Rep. Matt Leber. The race was fraught with accusations. She posted signs with Leber’s mugshot, which he said amounted to inflated accusations that never led to convictions.

In Leber’s attacks, Senn’s record was misconstrued and photographs were manipulated to make her look like the Joker from DC Comics.

Senn’s redrawn Charleston district includes more conservatives, which may have hurt her as well.

Senn said she wouldn’t talk about the race until the recount is complete later this week. Neither woman mentioned abortion in their statements Wednesday.

Runoff for Shealy

There was only one Republican woman to survive the night, but she only received 40% of the vote. She will face attorney Carlisle Kennedy in the runoff on June 25.

The Lexington County district that led the charge to flip the state from Democratic to Republican control over the past five decades was covered with billboards saying Shealy wasn’t “pro-life”.

As for the runoff, Shealy said she will likely change tactics, even if that alienates people uncomfortable when a woman raises her voice or takes a stand.

The South Carolina Senate was all-male for four years when Shealy was elected in 2012, and rarely had more than one woman in the chamber. If she loses, the Senate may have only two women, both Democrats, in 2025.

Therefore, the perspective of these three women can be lost, and issues such as abortion for all may find a home in some blue state up north.

“We needed someone to take care of children, families, veterans, and old people,” Shealy said. “All these people no one was taking care of. I came in there and gave them a voice.”

The voters rejected her pro-abortion voice on Tuesday.

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