It’s been a little over two months since South Carolina’s supreme court upheld a new abortion law banning the practice in almost all cases after six weeks.
That decision – which effectively undid a previous ruling outlawing the six-week ban – was presumed to have been the last word on this hot-button issue in the Palmetto State for the foreseeable future. And many – if not most – occupying leadership positions within the S.C. General Assembly certainly hoped that would be the case.
Clearly not …
As I noted in an expansive treatment published just a week after the court’s recent ruling, abortion policy is continuing to generate significant heat among members of the S.C. General Assembly – and among those seeking to challenge them for their seats. “Republican” lawmakers who thought they’d dealt with the issue decisively already are now facing fresh criticism from staunch pro-lifers eager to see them go further – by banning abortion from the moment of conception.
In Spartanburg County, for example, one incumbent senator who voted for the new six-week ban is being challenged to debate his position with a would-be rival who supports the broader ban – a challenge he appears willing to accept.
Josh Kimbrell won his seat in the S.C. Senate in 2020 – ousting veteran Democrat Glenn Reese. Kimbrell is running for reelection in 2024 – possibly as a stepping stone to a gubernatorial campaign in 2026. In recent days, though, the aviation executive has found himself the focus of withering criticism from pro-life advocate Matt Brock.
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Brock is the executive director of Equal Protection South Carolina (EPSC), a group which exists for the purpose of “establishing justice for the pre-born.”
“I believe babies in the womb, from the moment of fertilization are as equal in value as humans outside the womb,” Brock told me. “Therefore, I believe they are deserving of equal protection and equal justice under the law and are covered under the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Brock has been challenging Kimbrell – whom he deems insufficiently conservative on the issue of abortion – to debate him on this issue.
“In the spirit of integrity, transparency and consistency, I would like to publicly challenge my senator, Josh Kimbrell, to a public moderated debate,” Brock wrote on his Facebook page recently. “To put the odds even more in his favor, I’m happy to do it at HIS church with HIS pastor moderating.”
Brock also offered to pay $1,000 to anyone willing to set up the debate.
And he’s worked up a nifty flyer for the envisioned face-off …
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Will Kimbrell take Brock up on his challenge? According to a recent Facebook comment, the answer to that question would appear to be “yes.”
“I’m the true conservative leader here and you’re a charlatan,” Kimbrell wrote in the Facebook comment. “You want a debate you better bring your A-game, bro.”
As the two discussed potential moderators, times and venues for the debate, Kimbrell did introduce one caveat into the equation.
“I’m doing this only if it’s not a con job by you,” he wrote.
To recap: The authority of the state to regulate abortion has been firmly established by the U.S. supreme court’s recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which had maintained a national right to abortion for the last half century. The overturning of Roe effectively legalized state abortion bans including the so-called “heartbeat bill” – which outlawed a majority of abortions in the Palmetto State once a fetal heartbeat had been detected.
In January of this year, however, the state court struck down the heartbeat bill – specifically the six-week requirement of the law – after it was challenged by the South Atlantic office of national abortion provider Planned Parenthood on the grounds it violated protections of the S.C. Constitution (Article I, Section 10).
The court’s 3-2 decision to overturn the heartbeat bill sent lawmakers back to the drawing board, and in May of this year they passed a second version of the 2021 ban – Act No. 70 of 2023. This bill was specifically crafted in response to concerns raised by the court.
The court upheld the new law by a 4-1 vote, with a majority of justices determining lawmakers had erased their doubts as to the supposedly “arbitrary” nature of the six-week standard.
As noted, Kimbrell supported the six-week abortion ban – which Brock insists doesn’t go far enough. He is not alone in that contention, either. Several conservative Republican lawmakers have made it clear they intend to push a total abortion ban in the upcoming legislative session.
“New dust is being kicked up at points all along the state’s ideological fault lines on this seismic issue,” I noted this summer. “Trenches are already being dug ahead of the second regular session of the 125th S.C. General Assembly – which is set to convene in Columbia, S.C. on January 9, 2024.”
Keep it tuned to this media outlet to see how the issue continues to unfold … and to see whether Kimbrell and Brock’s debate ever takes place. Certainly my media outlet would me more than happy to host such an exchange – and broadcast it live for our readers to watch.
I’d also be more than happy to travel to Spartanburg, S.C. to moderate the exchange, if both candidates consented.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.
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