SC Statehouse Bills on Personhood in Committee

The Bill

  1. H 3530: Personhood Act of South Carolina
  2. S 217

Context

The South Carolina statehouse–both senate and the house of representatives–have nearly identical bills on personhood definition that have been referred to the judiciary committee for evaluation of vitality. The language used in them is enough to raise objection, as well as the fact that they are probably unconstitutional.

The bill seeks to amend the 1976 Code of South Carolina laws to enact the “Personhood act of South Carolina,” which establishes “that the right to life for each born and preborn human being vests at fertilization, and that the rights of due process and equal protection, guaranteed by section 3, article I of the constitution of this state, vest at fertilization for each born and preborn human being.”

Discussion

My personal position on abortion is this: I support you if you are “pro-life,” as devicisve a term that is, but I don’t think it should preclude what I see as my constitionally conservative view that the government doesn’t have a right or reason to legislate the conditions of medical intervention of s voluntary procedure. Tl;dr: if you don’t support abortion, don’t get one, and don’t push your views, experiences, and access privilege on others in the form of legislation. Instead I think a good outlet for that energy would be to extend your compassion for “preborn humans” to the women making difficult decisions or women with children they weren’t prepared for and need a helping hand or loving hug.

BACK TO BUSINESS

There are two remarkable things about this legislation. One is the phrase “preborn human” used to avoid the medical term of fetus. As a gentle reminder, the medical community has already empirically defined “personhood,” or when the organism is referred to as a baby instead of a fetus: it is when it can survive outside of the womb. I’ve never had a baby, but I’m at least 80% sure that a zygote can’t thrive outside the womb. Maybe I’m wrong.
The other, really, truly remarkable part of the bill is their justification: God and country. Beginning with the Declaration of Independence, the drafters then present the following “regarding the sanctity of life”:

(2)    All persons are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.

(3)    Personhood is God-given, as all men are created in the image of God.

(4)    The Preamble to the Constitution of the State of South Carolina contains the sovereign peoples’ acknowledgment of God as the source of constitutional liberty saying: ‘We the people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the preservation and perpetuation of the same.’

Let that sink in for a moment. We have separation of church and state as well as religious freedom written into our laws, not to mention the rights protected in Roe V. Wade. This bill seeks to codify the unprovable actions of an indefinite, subjective being.

And if we are to take the bill literally, which in my opinion we ought to, otherwise what is even the point of laws?, then the third point would put into law that only men are created in the image of God, and thus it could be argued that the rights protected in this bill are not extended to any “preborn human” (or other groups who currently do not have the same protections), who is assigned female the second they exit the womb.

Finally, this could effectively ban abortion in South Carolina, because one of the rights of personhood as outlined in the bill is “that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”

Action

As of this writing, a vote has not been ordered in either chamber nor is it on the judiciary docket for either chamber. Contact your state representatives (senate and house) if you want to object to the legislation. Click here to find them.  If you live in Park Circle, your reps are:

Senator Lawrence K. “Larry” Grooms
(803) 212-6400
click here to send him a message.

Representative J. Seth Whipper
(803) 734-3191
click here to send him a message.

Here is contact information for the respective judiciary committees and links to see all members:

Senate Judiciary Committee — (803)212-6610

House Judiciary Committee — (803)734-3120

Suggested script:

 In regards to points subsections 2, 3, and 4 of section 1-1-320 in H. 3530 and subsection B, C, and D of section 1-1-320 of S. 217, I oppose both bills on the following grounds:

Both bills, in defining personhood through a religious deity, violate a citizen’s right to freedom of religion and the premise of separation of church and state.

The ban on abortion that this measure would create is unconstitutional, as it violates Roe V. Wade and favors the life of an unviable fetus over that of the mother. Abortion is already limited to 20 weeks, which is problematic enough as it is possible, depending on the regularity of one’s menstrual cycle, to not even be aware you are pregnant at 20 weeks  [option insert of discussion of the number of times you have missed your period for more then two months]

This bill will jeopardize the lives, safety, and prosperity of South Carolina women. Women will still need to get abortions, so those with the means will travel out of state at their expense, and women without the means will either face the immense cost of raising a child more often than not in a household that cannot afford it, which in turn will burden the state, and those who cannot afford it and are desperate to avoid that fate will find other means of terminating the pregnancy, and many will be irreparably harmed or killed in that effort. Women will die as a direct result of this bill.

Finally, the gendered language effectively states that women are not equal to men as “personhood is God-given, as all men are created in the image of God.” 

 

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