South Carolina Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant Testifies on Behalf of Latest Personhood Bill

COLUMBIA, S.C.  – Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, among others, gave testimony at a state Senate subcommittee hearing Thursday on what is purported to be one of the state’s most controversial bills, known as “The Personhood Act”.

According to Personhood South CarolinaS.217 and its companion bill H.3530 are bills that would outlaw abortion in South Carolina by adding a definition of “personhood” that includes the unborn. The personhood movement seeks to establish legal personhood and thereby protection for all human beings, beginning at conception or fertilization, playing off of language from the Roe v. Wade opinion.

The personhood movement has its origins in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the very Supreme Court case which struck down state statutes on abortion. When the state of Texas was presenting its case, it argued that a fetus was a person within the language and meaning of the 14th amendment, and therefore protected. In writing his opinion Justice Blackmun claimed he could find no basis for such status. He noted, however, that “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case (Roe’s case), of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be protected.” [1]

Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant introduced the bill back in January of this year, while he was still a state senator. He gave a brief testimony in favor of bill saying, “This legislation directly underscores and recognizes those unalienable rights endowed by the Creator: the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to the pursuit of happiness for the baby girl and the baby boy that have yet to be born”.

Supporters of personhood legislation and amendments claim that if personhood is established for the preborn, beginning at fertilization, then legal protections afforded born persons would automatically apply, thus banning the murder of the preborn implicitly. Other strategies promote bills that would explicitly cite abortion as murder, punishable to the fullest extent of the law, and repeal bad regulations that create loopholes for abortionists.  Many legal experts speculate that even if personhood is successfully passed, there would still be the need for explicit laws banning it as murder, and bad pro-life laws that allow exceptions for the murder of certain categories of preborn humans would still have to be repealed.

Rita M. Dunaway, Personhood Advocate and Constitutional Lawyer for Virginia Christians for Life, says, “It is important to keep in mind that a pure personhood bill does nothing to prohibit abortion. In fact, since current law specifically permits abortion under the framework developed by Roe v. Wade and its progeny, further legislative action would be required before abortion could be criminalized.”[2]

While the true effect of personhood legislation is a subject of much debate in the anti-abortion world, what is not up for debate is that the pro-abortion lobby opposes it as vehemently as any any other strategy that challenges that status quo in regards to the murder of the preborn.

The League of Women Voters of South Carolina continues to propagate the fiction that a bill affording equal rights to unborn persons is somehow unconstitutional.

Lynn Teague, a representative of the League, argues that “…public policy in a pluralistic society must affirm the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices. ” She went on to make the erroneous claim that “The personhood concept as defined in this bill depends upon the idea that a fertilized egg, zygote, or embryo can be considered a person. This is inconsistent with normal usage of the English language and is not supported by a scientific understanding”.[3]

Ample testimony refuting her claims is widely available, and some testimony, citing biology textbooks as a source, was given at the hearing. According to WSPA 7 News, Registered Nurse Laura Fultz quoted from medical textbooks to the senators, saying “From an embryology textbook written for medical students, ‘A zygote, fertilized egg, is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization’”.[4]

Industry insider Dr. Michael Slowey was quoted by WSPA as well, saying “Stating that human life begins at fertilization is really not consistent with scientific fact. Both sperm and egg are alive prior to fertilization. Although there is DNA added, no real new life is created. Secondly, declaring that personhood occurs at fertilization implies individuality, which is actually a fallacy. While very few of our pre-implantation embryos, either in the person or in the laboratory, actually have the potential to deliver, some actually have the potential to become multiple individuals, as witnessed by identical twinning.” Slowey works as a reproductive endocrinologist and is co-founder of Coastal Fertility Specialists in Mt. Pleasant, a business that creates, freezes, and discards human beings by the millions in the name of “fertility”, a process known as “IVF”. His stake in the game is obvious – the bottom line of this kind of human trafficking stands to take a major blow if the murder of preborn humans is banned.  Though no medical text books were cited by Slowey in his obfuscated rebuttal of  Laura Fultz, WSPA seems to concur, writing in their coverage of the event, “In other words, how can an embryo be legally considered a person when, in fact, it’s possible that embryo could divide into more than one person?”.  The possibility of a person becoming two persons shouldn’t negate her original personhood.[4]

More of the usual objections were proffered, in which it somehow became justifiable to kill children that could potentially be handicapped, or that may not have a “good quality of life”. The common misinformation and scare tactics involving birth control and IVF were also spread about, by none other than Planned Parenthood, who continues to make the dishonest “life of the mother claims”. Some refutations of these poorly thought out contentions can be found here.

The speculation is that the bill is likely to travel the same path as last year’s attempt at personhood (S719 did not receive “special order,” and died with the end of the legislative session in June 2016). The current bill would have to pass in either the house or the senate by April 6th and is currently buried in subcommittee where it likely won’t see the light of day until after the deadline. Although bills can be brought forth after deadline, it is an uphill battle requiring a difficult to achieve two-thirds vote.

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