SC’s GOP ‘Sister Senators’ Say Farewell: The Cost of a Senate Seat

In the aftermath of South Carolina’s recent election, the state’s last Republican “sister senator” proudly displays an award that symbolizes both her loss and her unwavering commitment to her convictions. Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, stood alongside four other “sister senators”—two Republicans, one Democrat, and one Independent—who collectively helped block a near-total abortion ban in South Carolina. Their unity in opposing the six-week ban, which ultimately became law last year, earned them the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

The award, a sterling silver and crystal lantern engraved with the senators’ names, holds immeasurable value for these women. Its actual worth falls between $35,000 and $40,000, but its significance transcends monetary measurements. As Shealy prepares to leave office, she seeks a new home for the award—perhaps at the State Museum or the University of South Carolina—since displaying it within the Senate or antechamber was deemed too controversial. Only one of the five “sister senators” will return to the chamber next year, highlighting the personal cost of standing up for their beliefs.

Senate chamber without hyphens

The Courageous Stand

The three Republican women knew that opposing an abortion ban would invite challengers and attack ads from their party’s right flank. Despite this, they stood firm, risking their political careers for what they believed was right. Sen. Margie Bright Matthews, D-Walterboro, will be the sole returning “sister senator,” while Sen. Mia McLeod, a Democrat-turned-Independent, chose not to seek re-election. The award serves as a testament to their courage and unwavering commitment to their principles.

A Senate Seat’s Price

As Shealy holds up the lantern, she declares, “This is what a Senate seat costs, and I’m proud of it!” The award represents not just their individual sacrifices but also their collective impact on women’s rights, children, and the state of South Carolina. It stands as a beacon of courage, reminding us that sometimes doing what’s right comes at a personal price, but it’s a price worth paying.


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