BOSTON (WCBD)- The five women in the South Carolina Senate will be honored with an annual award from the JFK Foundation for their joint efforts to block a near total abortion ban in the state.
Sister senators — Katrina Shealy (R-Lexington), Margie Bright Matthews (D-Colleton), Mia McLeod (I-Richland), Sandy Senn (R-Charleston), and Penry Gustafson (R-Kershaw) — will be the 2023 recipients of the Profile in Courage Award, the foundation announced Tuesday.
The women gained national attention after they formed a bipartisan coalition to block a near total abortion ban in April and ultimately vote against the six-week ban in May, which passed and was recently upheld by the state Supreme Court.
The lawmakers are being recognized for their two-day filibuster in which they took turns describing the complexities of pregnancy and the reproductive system, the dangers of lacking access to contraception, and inadequate privacy laws, the foundation said in a news release.
“The women of the South Carolina Senate exemplify courage and cooperation in politics today,” JFK’s grandson, Jack Schlossberg, said. “Facing intense opposition and personal attacks, Senators Shealy, Matthews, McLeod, Senn, and Gustafson worked together and across the aisle to oppose a total ban on abortion. Their impact extends beyond the state, inspiring Americans everywhere to keep fighting to protect individual rights.”
Shealy was censured by the Lexington County Republican Party in June for her stance on abortion. Gustafson also faced criticism from within her party and was censured by the Kershaw County Republican Party Executive Committee in July.
Since 1989, the Kennedy family and John F. Kennedy Library Foundation have presented the awards to public officials to “recognize and celebrate the quality of political courage that he [JFK] admired most,” according to the foundation’s website.
Also receiving honors this year are South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumido Kishida for their work improving relations between their countries.
“This year’s Profile in Courage Awards honor leaders who took stands of conscience and risked their careers by putting the public interest ahead of their own political standing,” said Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. “The women of the South Carolina Senate set an example for those seeking justice and individual freedom at all levels of government. President Yoon and PM Kishida are doing the hard work of reconciliation in pursuit of a more peaceful world. All of the honorees demonstrate a commitment to democracy at a time when courage is required.”
The awards will be presented on Oct. 29 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.