By Kate Scanlon
(OSV News) — Abortion bans failed in Nebraska and South Carolina, two Republican-led states, in the final week of April following a successful effort in North Dakota.
In Nebraska, lawmakers in the unicameral Legislature came one vote short of breaking a filibuster April 27 to vote on a six-week abortion ban. The motion failed 32-15; it needed 33 votes to proceed.
Republican Gov. Jim Pillen, who advocated for the bill, said in a statement he is “a staunch defender of Life and supporter of the Nebraska Heartbeat Act.”
“I am profoundly disappointed in the cloture vote today,” he said.
In a post on its Facebook page, the Nebraska Catholic Conference said the state’s Legislature “failed to protect mothers and babies from abortion.”
“The bill may have died, but we’re not done. We have all shown up and given our greatest of efforts,” the post said. “Every prayer, presence, and sacrifice made a difference. We will keep fighting for every beating heart in Nebraska so that every life is protected, valued, and can LIVE.”
Adam Scwhwend, western regional director for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said in a statement about the Nebraska vote, “Human rights battles are not won overnight.”
“Victory over great injustices takes time, patience and persistence. We’ve come so far as a nation in the last year with tens of thousands of lives saved through state laws,” he said. “We know Nebraska will enact protections for innocent unborn children.”
In South Carolina, state senators rejected a bill April 27 that would have banned nearly all abortions in a 22-21 vote, marking the third time such a ban has failed in the GOP-controlled chamber since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision last June.
After the Dobbs decision overturned prior rulings by the high court — including Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which found abortion access to be a constitutional right — many states moved to either restrict or expand access to the procedure.
South Carolina’s bill would have banned abortion from conception, with exceptions for rape or incest through the first trimester, and with exceptions for fatal fetal anomalies or a maternal mortality risk.
South Carolina currently prohibits most abortions at about 20 weeks beyond fertilization, or 22 weeks gestational age.
The abortion bills’ setbacks took place just days after North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, signed a law banning nearly all abortions, with narrow exceptions in the first six weeks for cases of rape or incest, and narrow exceptions beyond six weeks for medical emergencies.
The state’s previous abortion ban is facing a court challenge. Burgum said in a statement that the new legislation “clarifies and refines existing state law,” as well as “reaffirms North Dakota as a pro-life state.”
If North Dakota’s law goes into effect, it is not immediately clear how much impact it would have in a state with no remaining abortion facilities. The state’s Red River Women’s Clinic moved last year from Fargo across state lines to nearby Moorhead, Minnesota.
The North Dakota Catholic Conference applauded Burgum for signing the bill into law in an April 24 statement.
“We rejoice that North Dakota has taken this important step toward making the state a sanctuary for life,” the conference stated.