As S.C. Abortion Vote Nears, GOP Women Rebuke the Men: ‘It’s Always About Control’
This article was originally published by Danielle Paquette for the Washington Post
When the fight over the right to abortion fell to the states, it landed awkwardly in Senate Office 601, where two Republicans who share the same suite, receptionist and voice-mail box have campaigned all year against each other’s idea of “pro-life.”
On one side of the roughly 800-square-foot space is Sen. Rex Rice, 66, who said every pregnancy represented “God’s child” and pushed for a near-total ban on abortion in South Carolina.
On the other is Sen. Sandy Senn, 59, who, loudly enough for him to hear, slammed that approach as “all about controlling women.”
To her, “pro-life” means protecting women, too. So, with the Senate expected to vote as early as Tuesday on a bill that would ban most abortions after about six weeks, Senn criticized her colleague for refusing to support what she called the “reasonable” middle ground: outlawing the procedure after 12 weeks.
“I suspect his wife thinks what he’s doing is crazy, but I haven’t asked her,” Senn said one May afternoon, reclining behind her wooden desk. “Is he in there?”
The senators have been friends for seven years, ever since they were sworn in at the same time, and have vacationed together with their families in the Bahamas. Once, after Senn tangled with a prominent Democrat, Rice gifted her a pair of pink boxing gloves and a photo of a Chihuahua barking at a big dog, which reminded him of his 5-foot-3 suitemate taking on opponents who towered over her.
“It’s always interesting to me to watch the two- and three-pound dogs go after the big dogs,” he said. “The big dogs just don’t care.”
Today, the suitemates are locked in an uncomfortably personal stalemate — one that reflects broader discord between Republican lawmakers over how far to restrict abortion access now that Roe v. Wade has been struck down.