Senators continue debate on 'personhood' bill - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Senators continue debate on 'personhood' bill

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Senators continue to debate the question of when life begins. On Thursday, medical experts and theologists weighed in on the debate and legislation that seeks to give embryos in-utero constitutional rights.

The bill sponsor says the legislation is ultimately aimed at banning abortion in South Carolina. But the way the bill is written now, it would also outlaw popular forms of hormonal birth control like the pill and aspects of in vitro fertilization. Anyone who uses either of these methods could face criminal charges if the bill passes as written.

"The states can push back against Roe vs. Wade by defining that life begins at conception," said Minister E. Ray Moore.

"We want these children to be born," said state Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg). "I think that's the role of the state, to protect the innocent."

Similar "personhood" acts in five other states have failed or been struck down by the Supreme Court. To this day, no state has enacted it.

"A fetal personhood bill which would outlaw abortions, even in the most life threatening circumstances has never been an option with the Supreme Court," said University of South Carolina assistant law professor Marcia Zug. "It's clearly unconstitutional."

"These personhood measures would prevent a woman from using safe and legal contraceptive methods such as the pill, IUD, and would also restrict family planning and in vitro fertilization," said Will Bigger with Planned Parenthood.

Fertilization doctors on hand testified life begins when a fetus could survive outside of the womb, not at conception.

"Given there's an uncertainty that any embryo will develop into a person, it is unreasonable and unbalanced to give constitutional rights to an embryo," said reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Michael Slowey.

Bright, the bill's sponsor and a candidate for U.S. Senate, says he is undeterred by the widespread, unintended consequences of the bill.

"Let's just face it, a lot of those arguments are thrown out because they're pro-choice, they're for the culture of death, they're going to continue to push it forward and we're going to fight against it," said Bright. "It's up to the South Carolina Senate to protect these unborn children."

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