Melissa Oremus, S.C. Freedom Caucus say they'll vote against six week abortion ban

·4 min read

Sep. 21—S.C. Rep. Melissa Oremus, R-Graniteville, and another Republican woman in the South Carolina House said Tuesday that they are not going to vote in favor of a roughly six-week abortion ban in South Carolina.

Oremus and S.C. Rep. Ashley Trantham, R-Greenville, said in a letter dated Sept. 20 that they would not vote to concur when the S.C. House meets next week to consider a S.C. Senate-amended House bill that would ban abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

On Aug. 30 and 31, the South Carolina House voted largely along party lines to send the Senate a bill restricting access to abortion to situations where the life or physical health of the mother is in danger and during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy that's the result of a rape or incest.

The Senate voted to change the bill — S.C. Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, said the Republicans did not have the votes to advance the House bill — to allow access to abortion up to the detection of a fetal heartbeat (five or six weeks into a pregnancy) while keeping the House exceptions to allow abortion afterwards if the life or physical health of the mother is in danger or during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy that's the result of rape or incest.

The S.C. House is expected to meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday to consider the bill as amended by the Senate. When the House meets, it will have three options: agree with the Senate amendment, not agree with the Senate amendment or make an amendment to the amendment and send it back to the Senate.

Oremus and Trantham said in the Sept. 20 letter that they and their 12 male Republican colleagues in the Freedom Caucus would vote not to concur with the Senate changes.

They said the Senate amendment makes the bill something they can't morally or ethically support.

"The issue of human life isn't a pie where a few pieces are better than none," they continued. "The issue, like life itself, is a precious gem that cannot be divided. To accept a bill that denies the very principle upon which it was introduced would be to smash the gem in the height of political hypocrisy."

Oremus and Trantham also said they are disturbed by the language and posture of the female Republicans in the S.C. Senate.

One of the reasons the Senate did not have the votes to advance the House bill is that S.C. Sens. Sandy Senn, R-Charleston, and Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, were opposed to the Senate amendments. They were joined in their opposition to the House bill by S.C. Sens. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, and Penry Gustafson, R-Kershaw.

Oremus said that if the Senate Republican women won't stand up for life, she and Trantham will.

"Arguments used seemed to be taken directly from Planned Parenthood's website," Oremus and Trantham said. "We want to let you know: Freedom Caucus women in the House mean it when we say we are pro-life."

They added that many of the arguments used by the female Republican senators were focused on exceptions for rape and incest.

"Less than 1% of abortions are committed due to rape and incest," Oremus and Trantham continue. "Permitting the murder of a living being based on on situations that virtually never occur is unacceptable to us. And again, there is no situation which supersedes the gem of life."

Voting not to concur will be a continuation of Oremus's pro-life work.

Oremus told the House ad hoc committee that drafted the House abortion bill in July that she became pregnant at 16 years old and resisted pressure family and friends to get an abortion.

"Once there is another life growing in you, then it's another body; and it's not their choice," Oremus said at the meeting. "They're looking to their parent to protect them, to carry them through so that they could be born. Just like Rep. [Jeff] Johnson said, so they could have the opportunity to live their life."

She also authored a bill that would have required doctors performing an abortion via medication to inform their patients about the potential of reversing the procedure.