Proposed SC bill would define 'person' at fertilization

Published: Mar. 30, 2017 at 6:29 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2017 at 7:17 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina's Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant is fighting for the 'right to life' for unborn children, starting at fertilization.

Bryant's bill, S. 217, is the Personhood Act of South Carolina. He sponsored the bill as a senator along with 18 other senators who also signed on as sponsors.

In a standing room only meeting on Thursday morning, there was moving testimony on the bill from those both for and against it. If passed, the act would grant the same rights to the zygote or fertilized egg, as to the adult.

The Lt. Gov. began the hearing, reading from S. 217: "…those unalienable rights endowed by the creator, the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to the pursuit of happiness to the baby girl and the baby boy who have yet to be born."

Speakers on polar ends of the debate urged senators to hear their view on the matter. By recognizing those rights for each fertilized egg, there would be consequences on abortion; doctors would be unable to terminate pregnancies.

Those against the measure include Katie Sacra. She testified, telling the Senate panel of her trials and troubles raising a child with a painful, lethal disorder.

"I promise you, no matter how hard you try to imagine, you cannot begin to understand the magnitude of suffering this has caused in our lives," Sacra said.

Sacra says she has had abortions performed after learning of disorders the babies were to have if born. She says she believes the quality of life matters.

"I was scheduling an abortion…a decision I never thought I would make. A decision I have made more than once because of this horrible disorder. An incredibly personal decision I have been so grateful to have been able to make," she said.

Others testified against the quality of life argument, in support for the Personhood bill.

"We have a lot of suffering in our world. I've seen a lot of it as a nurse. But opposing a single piece of legislation is not going to fix all that suffering," Laura Fultz said.

Others supporting the bill claim to be a voice for the unborn, believing each pregnancy an act of God.

"He did not change his position based on whether things were good or bad. We all suffer good and bad. When a child is conceived, the Lord has spoken," Valerie Quick said.

Planned Parenthood representatives argue that that would pose health risks for women who suffer dangerous, life-threatening pregnancies.

The measure could also affect fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization or IVF. Vickie Ringer, with Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, says the bill would eliminate IVF.

"So, infertile couples who actually want to have children would not be able to take advantage of that fertility assistance," she said.

Those on the other side of the issue believe there should be a voice for the unborn that do not have one, and that this stage of life deserves due process the same as an adult does.

There was no action taken on the bill Thursday. There was not enough time in the meeting to allow everyone to testify that had signed up, so the Senate panel will meet again to hear that likely next week.

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