The S.C. Senate on Wednesday debated and narrowly defeated a proposal to block the state health plan from covering abortions for victims of rape or incest.
The 23-19 vote came minutes after Senate Democrats threatened to hold up the entire state budget to defeat the budget amendment by state Sen. Richard Cash, R-Anderson.
In a vigorous debate, Cash, who also has proposed outlawing all abortions in South Carolina, declared state taxpayers should not be forced to pay to kill unborn children.
The Anderson Republican — arguably the Legislature's staunchest pro-life advocate — also invoked the story of a 16-year-old girl who was impregnated by a 33-year-old man but kept the baby, later calling her son the "biggest blessing of my life."
However, state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, threatened a filibuster to kill the proposal. Hutto chastised his Senate colleagues for even allowing a debate on Cash's proposal.
Hutto said the proposal would affect the children of S.C. state employees who can't afford to pay for abortions after horrific crimes.
“We’re going to force that 12-year-old to have that child whether she wants to or not," Hutto said of Cash's proposal.
It is not known how many abortions for victims of rape or incest are paid for by the state health plan each year. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control does not track that data.