S.C. lawmakers look unlikely to send abortion question to voters

Some lawmakers say they believe putting abortion restrictions on the ballot is the most direct way to find out the true will of the people. Others disagree.
Published: May. 8, 2023 at 4:32 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s been more than nine months since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade – and South Carolina Republicans have failed to agree on tighter abortion restrictions.

That’s got some South Carolinians and even some lawmakers asking: Why doesn’t the Legislature let voters decide?

Some lawmakers say they believe putting this on the ballot is the most direct way to find out the true will of the people on this issue.


  • On Tuesday morning, House members will hold a hearing on a six-week abortion ban that’s already passed the Senate . It’s the first time House Republicans have been willing to take up this bill.

“We have reached a place in America with abortion that every person, I mean, almost every person who’s an adult in South Carolina has given some thought to abortion, and I would hazard to guess that the vast majority have opinions about abortion,” said Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Horry.

A January poll from the South Carolina Policy Council asked likely voters of both parties if they would support or oppose a state constitutional amendment to restrict or ban most abortions.

Nearly half the respondents said they’d oppose it – while about a third said they’d be in support.

Hembree proposed putting the question to voters in a referendum during the Senate’s most recent abortion debate last month.


But that push failed – and so, too, have previous attempts at the State House recently to let voters decide directly.

“That’s a cop-out, the idea that we should start having constitutional amendments for every issue,” said Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield. “We were elected, all of us were questioned – whether you be Republican or Democrat or whatever, everybody was questioned – what is your position on this issue? And you had to take a position.”

Gov. Henry McMaster echoed Massey’s belief that voters are making that decision through their elected representatives.

And he says this is an issue South Carolina can’t wait to settle in an election.