COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina state Senators Tuesday rejected a House proposal that would ban nearly all abortions in the state, instead sending their six-week abortion ban bill to a conference committee.
The group of six lawmakers-- three from each chamber-- are tasked with working out a compromise between the bills.
“Once the Supreme Court said here, y’all can now make the law, some people who maybe voted more strongly pro-life in the past all of the sudden weren’t so interested in voting that strongly,” said Republican state Sen. Richard Cash, who has been pushing for a total abortion ban.
Cash, along with Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey and Democrat Sen. Margie Bright Matthews, have been assigned to the conference committee.
"We need to make sure our privacy rights are protected and to make sure the government stays out of the medical room with her doctor," said Matthews.
The House Committee Members, announced in September, are Rep. Tommy Pope, Rep. John McCravy and Rep. Spencer Wetmore.
The House's version completely bans abortions with exceptions for the mother's life and victims of rape or incest up to three months of pregnancy.
The Senate Version reinforces the existing "Fetal Heartbeat Law," which bans abortions around six weeks into a pregnancy and included exceptions for the mother's life, victims of rape or incest, and fatal fetal anomalies.
To get a bill passed before the end of the year, the group would have to meet, reach a deal and have it approved by both chambers by Nov. 13, when this year's general assembly's term ends by law.
“Obviously it is a stiff challenge. The clock is ticking,” said Cash.
Regardless, lawmakers agree debate on this issue isn't over.
"There has to be a compromise somewhere because this cannot be the only issue we work on," said Sen. Katrina Shealy.
"This abortion issue is gonna be forefront come January," said Matthews.
South Carolina's current six week abortion ban is temporarily blocked by the State Supreme Court.
The Court is set to hear oral arguments Wednesday on whether the law violates the state's constitutional right to privacy.