South Carolina Republican “Sister Senators” Display Award Symbolizing Opposition to Abortion Ban

South Carolina Republican Senator Katrina Shealy proudly displayed the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, given to the five bipartisan “sister senators” who helped block a near-total abortion ban in the state. Shealy, along with four other female senators, opposed the six-week ban that was ultimately passed into law last year. During her farewell speech at the Senate podium, Shealy emphasized her support for women, children, and South Carolina, showcasing the sterling silver and crystal lantern engraved with the senators’ names. The award, valued between $35,000 and $40,000, is currently seeking a new home, possibly at the State Museum or University of South Carolina.

Out of the five “sister senators,” only one, Sen. Margie Bright Matthews, is set to return to the chamber next year without any opposition. Sen. Mia McLeod, a Democrat-turned-Independent, did not seek re-election. The three Republican senators who opposed the abortion ban faced challengers and negative attack ads, resulting in their defeat. Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey argued that their loss was not solely due to their abortion votes but also due to opponents portraying them as out of touch.

Sen. Shealy lost her re-election bid to attorney Carlisle Kennedy by a significant margin in the June 25 runoff. Shealy’s defeat marked the only loss for the Senate GOP Caucus that night. During her farewell speech, she criticized Personhood South Carolina, a group that seeks to outlaw abortions without exceptions, for their negative campaign tactics. Sen. Richard Cash, who founded the group, left the chamber before Shealy spoke. Shealy called their actions cruel and expressed disappointment with the lobbyists associated with the group.

Sen. Shealy’s primary concern was the lack of balance in the Senate, not just in terms of gender representation but also in terms of party affiliation. She emphasized the need for different perspectives and expressed concern about the potential absence of GOP women in the chamber next year. South Carolina’s ranking in female representation in the Legislature has improved over the years, but the upcoming elections may result in only two women, Sen. Bright Matthews and Sen. Tomeika Isaac Devine, being present in the chamber.

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