South Carolina's Personhood bill is confronting years of injustices

South Carolina's Personhood bill is confronting years of injustices
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South Carolina legislators are mounting a new challenge to Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court 1973 decision that overturned state laws restricting abortion. Today, America’s abortion laws rank among the most permissive in the world.

The “Personhood Act” is currently being debated in the South Carolina Senate and is supported by Gov. Henry McMaster (R). Personhood laws protect the right to life of a child in the womb from the moment of his or her conception: the moment when the ovum is fertilized. In essence, personhood laws outlaw most, if not all, abortions.

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Two other states – Kansas and Missouri – have passed personhood laws, but their scope is limited because the laws say that they can’t supersede existing federal abortion laws. But South Carolina’s proposed measure is different.

 

It’s designed to directly conflict with federal law when it takes effect. This would create a legal conflict that supporters hoped would lead to the Supreme Court ultimately overturning Roe.

The reality is that personhood laws recognize what is scientific fact and what the Supreme Court rejected in the Roe decision: That a unique, individual human life begins at the moment of fertilization.

The Supreme Court stated in its 1973 ruling that it couldn’t, “resolve the difficult question of when life begins . . . since those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus.”

They were dead wrong. Scientists have long known that life begins at fertilization. At that very moment sperm and egg join, a new human being is formed with unique DNA separate from the mother and father. That DNA contains all the information necessary to govern the baby’s growth and development for the rest of her life.

In 1981, medical experts testified before a U.S. Senate judiciary subcommittee to this fact.

Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth from Harvard University Medical School stated, "It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive...It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception." 

Dr. Alfred Bongioanni, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania testified, "I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception." 

Professor Hymie Gordon of the Mayo Clinic told the committee, "By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception."

Even abortion industry leaders at one time admitted that life begins at fertilization.

Faye Wattleton, the former president of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion chain in America, said in a 1997 interview with Ms. Magazine, “I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don't know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence.”

And Bernard Nathanson, co-founder abortion advocacy group NARAL, wrote in a 1974 article for the New England Journal of Medicine, "There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy.”

South Carolina’s bill affirms the logical and moral conclusion we can draw from the scientific evidence. That’s because all innocent human life requires protection under the law, and because human life begins in the womb, human embryos deserve legal protection just as born children do.

The alternative is nothing more than the rule that the strongest wins.

The popular phrase in defense of abortion is that “women have the right to choose.” Of course, I agree that all women — and all people — possess the "right to choose.” But we are not free to do whatever we please without consequences. Do we want to live in a society where we are free to choose to kill those who are weaker, without consequence?

When we allow one person’s right to “choose” to trump another person’s right to exist, we say that some people’s lives are expendable for the convenience of others.

That breeds a culture of the strong versus the weak, the healthy versus the sick, the young versus the old, and even parents versus their own children. But few stay healthy and strong lifelong, and no one stays young. Or maybe you don’t think abortion will really have that effect. When over 3,000 abortions are committed daily in this country – the consequences of that brutal act leave few untouched.

It’s not too late to change course. Many members of Congress and state legislators across the country, as well as millions of Americans, support personhood amendments to our state and federal constitutions.

I applaud South Carolina for working to move our country towards a more humane and just future. While our Supreme Court has still not caught up with the moral and ethical best choice in the face of sound science, that day may be coming soon.

South Carolina’s proposed law may be the needed challenge to confront the decades-long injustice of Roe. For the sake of justice everywhere, may their efforts succeed.

Lila Rose is the President and Founder of Live Action. You can find her on Twitter: @lilagracerose