What makes a 'person' in SC? Anti-abortion bill stalls out in Senate meeting

What makes a 'person' in SC? Anti-abortion bill stalls out in Senate meeting
Updated: Jan. 30, 2018 at 7:30 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It was a heated meeting Tuesday morning when senators argued over how to define "person" in South Carolina.

The debate over giving the right to life to a fertilized egg lasted hours. Lawmakers went hard on each other - as the bill would stop abortions, and could spell trouble for fertility treatments if passed.

Personal stories from people in the audience were shared during the debate. There are women both for and against the "Personhood Act." Several of them wanted to share their stories on how the bill could have helped them or hurt them had it been law in their time of need.

Dale Bare held-up her cane.

"I was hoping that somebody would say, 'you know, what's important about this?'" Bare said.

A picture of her grandchildren, ages three and four, symbolized her stance on the "Personhood" bill.

"I just don't think it should happen that I would be deprived of my grandchildren," Bare said.

She says her daughter conceived them through in-vitro fertilization (IVF), which could be threatened by this bill that gives the right to life to the fertilized egg. Life at that stage could limit fertility doctors' procedures.

"They made these two beautiful children who I love dearly, and they would not have had children if this Personhood Bill had gone through I understand," she said.

Senators challenged the bill backed by Sen. Richard Cash (R-Anderson). Some suggested starting from scratch if an anti-abortion law is a goal.

"I think that you lack political courage, quite frankly. You just don't want to do what you want to do. So, you're going to try to do something else and hurt other people," Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) said.

Others in the audience wanted a better outcome for the proposal.

"There is, there's a life that's being snuffed out, and that's unnecessary," Elizabeth Scott said.

Elizabeth Scott backs the "Personhood" bill. She says her once boyfriend tried to convince her to abort her first-born.

"My boyfriend waited two hours total silence and looked at me and said, 'well hon, I know how you feel about abortion but if you will just do this one, we will get married and we will have kids later," Scott said.

But the bill stalled over several concerns, including whether abortion could be necessary for a life or death situation for the mother. That's why the bill's woman sponsor, Sen. Katrina Shealy (R-Lexington) called for the bill to be "carried over," or delayed for now as amendments are worked on.

"And everybody in this room will hate me later, but I think we're doing the right thing," Shealy said.

Bare agrees with re-doing the bill to focus only on abortion, without involving specifically the right to life at fertilization; she doesn't say whether she'd support a proposal like that, however. Scott says she would.

Scott feels the bill would be better to ban abortion and include an exemption for women at risk.

In order for the bill to move forward toward becoming law now, the same committee will need to come back and debate amendments and then pass it on to the Senate floor.

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