South Carolina Lawmakers Halt Abortion, Conversion Therapy Bills By Walking Out

Two members of the South Carolina Senate indefinitely stalled anti-abortion and pro-conversion therapy bills Thursday by simply leaving the chamber, denying the Republican-led committee the quorum to move forward with a vote.

Sen. Brad Hutto (D), one of 17 members of the Senate’s Medical Affairs Committee, vowed at the start of Thursday’s hearing that he would leave the room with the five proxy votes of other Democratic members if the committee took up the bills in question.

“In the minority, we don’t have a lot of cards to play,” Hutto said when announcing his plans. “But when we have cards to play, it’s not fair to ask us not to play it.”

Hutto eventually left the chamber along with Republican Sen. Sandy Senn, who told The Post and Courier after the vote that she thought it was a waste of time and resources to argue over new abortion restrictions when the state is in the middle of fending off legal challenges to a six-week abortion ban that Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed into law last year.

South Carolina state Sen. Brad Hutto (D) promised to walk out, denying the Medical Affairs Committee a quorum, if its chairman proceeded with anti-abortion and pro-conversation therapy legislation.
South Carolina state Sen. Brad Hutto (D) promised to walk out, denying the Medical Affairs Committee a quorum, if its chairman proceeded with anti-abortion and pro-conversation therapy legislation.

Associated Press

The abortion bills before the committee seek to charge abortion providers with murder and force doctors to push patients to consider a potentially dangerous “abortion reversal” procedure, which isn’t backed by any peer-reviewed research.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has taken a firm stance against any such “abortion reversal” laws, saying that “unfounded legislative mandates represent dangerous political interference and compromise patient care and safety.”

The other bill Hutton promised to walk out over would nullify a ban in the state capital, Columbia, of so-called conversion therapy, the unfounded and harmful treatment that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation.

Following Hutto’s and Sen’s objections, committee chair Danny Verdin (R) decided not to bring the matters to a vote out of concern that the full Senate would kill legislation that a committee passed without a quorum.

“I’m not going to risk the time, energy or the reputation of the committee to have this work challenged on the floor,” he said before vowing to try reassigning the bill to a different committee, which would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate.

“Now, more than ever, I will seek to exercise all rules of the Senate to forward legislation out of this committee that enjoys significant support,” he vowed.

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