COLUMBIA, SC — A Senate committee in South Carolina has voted to advance a bill that recognizes the personhood of the unborn from the time of conception.
Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-9 on Tuesday in favor of the Personhood Act of South Carolina following two hours of debate, according to the Post and Courier. The bill recognizes the God-given right to life from the moment of fertilization.
“The General Assembly acknowledges that all persons are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. The General Assembly acknowledges that personhood is God-given, as all men are created in the image of God,” the Act reads.
“The General Assembly finds that a human being is a person at fertilization. The right to life for each born and preborn human being vests at fertilization,” it states. “The rights guaranteed by Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution of this State, that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law nor denied the equal protection of the laws, vest at fertilization for each born and preborn human being.”
The bill also outlines, as there are no exceptions to the declaration, that nothing in the legislation serves to prohibit physicians from saving the lives of pregnant women if their life is in danger. It states that efforts should be made to save both mother and child.
“[T]he physician shall make reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of the preborn human being in a manner consistent with accepted medical standards. Under such circumstances, the accidental or unintentional injury or death to the preborn human being is not a violation of this article,” it instructs. “The provisions of this section must [also] not be construed to authorize the intentional killing of a preborn human being.”
Gov. Henry McMaster applauded the advancement of the bill by the Senate committee. He has pledged to sign the legislation should it make it to his desk.
“We must do everything we can to protect the lives of South Carolinians, to include those of the born and unborn, young and old. I believe that human life begins at conception, and I believe the people of South Carolina deserve for their laws to reflect the values they hold dear,” he said in a statement.
Democrats have opposed the legislation because it does not include exceptions for rape and incest. Sen. Richard Cash, R-Anderson, replied to the contention by stating that “two wrongs don’t make a right.”
The only Republican that didn’t vote was Sen. Sandy Senn, R-Charleston, who told reporters that she thought the bill was unconstitutional, but didn’t want to cast a vote against a pro-life measure.
As previously reported, a similar bill was presented in 2015 by Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, and Rep. Bill Chumley, R-Spartanburg, that would have brought the matter of personhood before voters. The proposal died in the legislature in June 2016.