Washington DC., SAEDNEWS: Reproductive rights are set to take center stage in the 2024 election, with President Joe Biden's Democrats and their Republican opponents seeking to capitalize on an issue that polarizes Americans like almost no other.
But conservative politicians hoping to enact severe restrictions after the US Supreme Court gutted federal protections last year have been having second thoughts amid a backlash from voters galvanized by the threat to their freedoms.
South Carolina's Senate and Nebraska's legislature -- both about two-thirds Republican -- rejected a near-total prohibition and a six-week ban respectively on Thursday as conservatives defied their own parties to block the legislation.
It was the third time draconian curbs had failed in South Carolina since the high court's ruling in June and abortions in both states remain legal for at least the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
"Some of you follow the leader off the cliff time and time again, every time, when it comes to abortion," South Carolina state senator Sandy Senn admonished her fellow Republicans in a debate ahead of the vote.
Abortion laws are about nothing more than "control," she argued, pointing to the gender disparity in the 46-member chamber, which has just five women.
All five female senators -- three of them Republican -- tanked the abortion vote with fiery speeches defending reproductive rights (source: France 24).