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The Freedom of Conscience Act and the Huh? Caucus

April 15th, 2011 No comments

Americans United for Life analyzes state laws related to Life every year. AUL even goes so far as to rank the states in the strength of their laws on abortion, protection of the unborn (in contexts outside of abortion), bioethics, the end-of-life, and health care freedom of conscience.

South Carolina is currently ranked 19th of the 50 states. 19th. We can do better.

But in order to be rated among the Top Ten pro-life states in the country, we must close two serious gaps: Born Alive Infant Protection and Conscience Protection. We discussed Born Alive in our last message to you.

When it comes to Conscience, though South Carolina law is very strong on the right to object to taking part in abortion, there is no protection for health care professionals or institutions in other ethically questionable areas such as stem cell research or euthanasia.

So, we were glad to see H.3408, the South Carolina Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act, which came up on the House floor for an extended debate last Tuesday.

If you read the online voting score sheet on H. 3408 posted on the statehouse website, you will see that 69 members voted in favor of final passage of the bill, 41 voted against, 5 were excused, and eight 8 just didn’t bother to vote.

We win. Sounds good. But what does it really mean?

To get a clear picture of the real position of each individual legislator on the larger issue of Life, we must consider all votes cast on Born Alive and Conscience last Tuesday. So, Palmetto Family took all 9 roll calls and analyzed them in a huge spreadsheet (1,107 cells for those of you who appreciate such things).

When tallied, the nine roll call votes reveal three distinct groups of legislators as pie charted above:

  • 60% voted pro-life every single time. This Consistently Pro-Life group of 74 voted pro-life right down to procedural motions like tabling and “carrying over,” as well as amendments and final passage.
  • 20% were equally as consistent on the other side. These 25 or so Consistently Pro-”Choice” members of the General Assembly voted wrong every single time, whether it be procedural or passage.
  • 20% could be called The Huh? Caucus (24). These state representatives did everything they could to water down the bill by voting for amendments that would have weakened it. Or, they voted to kill the bill procedurally. But, with 60% of the House sticking with the pro-life position every single time the voting bell rang, these folks eventually reversed course and voted for final passage. That way they could say they voted for the bill while actually trying to eviscerate it. This group voted Aye only when the outcome was inevitable. Of the 24, seven (7) members in particular were all over the map. They voted for some weakening amendments and not others, and some didn’t vote for final passage after voting against some of the weakening amendments.

Palmetto Family Alliance will continue to monitor the voting records of the members of the South Carolina House and Senate in preparation for our 2011-2012 Legislative Scorecard. The Scorecard will include The Huh? Caucus. To review the Scorecard from the last legislative session, please visit this page.

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Shocking Vote in South Carolina House

April 1st, 2011 No comments

22 members vote against infants already born

Late Tuesday afternoon, the SC House took up two bills related to the Life issue.

The second of the two received the most attention. It could be considered “controversial” because it would opt South Carolina out of abortion coverage in the new Exchanges mandated by the new health insurance law. It would also allow health care workers to refuse to participate in procedures that violate their consciences. Abortion = controversial. We get it.

But the first bill wasn’t about abortion and shouldn’t have been controversial. It was about infants who are already born.

Known as the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” the federal version of the law was passed in 2002 on a voice vote in US House, and a 98-0 roll call vote in the US Senate. In the Senate, Senator Edward Kennedy and Senator Barbara Boxer supported it and voted for it. The last time it was taken up in South Carolina, it passed by a whopping 105-5.

But, according to the new online vote system of the SC House, at 4:24 p.m. on Tuesday, the vote on H.3403 was 91-22.

There is only one way to read the roll call sheet: 22 elected members of the South Carolina General Assembly voted against protecting children who are already born.

This is a shocking result. It is one thing to be “pro-choice” or even “pro-abortion,” but how could any elected official, when presented with the opportunity to protect a child who has already left her mother’s body, vote “No”? That’s like being “pro-death.”

At the bottom of this message, I have reproduced the text of the BAIPA bill for you. As you can see, there is no legislative sleight of hand. There are no words that could be misinterpreted. In fact, the bill even states that the rights of an unborn child can’t be expanded by the law!

Here is the list of legislators (including three pastors) who voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. If you know any of these officials, or if you notice a member from your county, you can use this page to find contact information. You may wish to respectfully express your concern about his or her vote.

Terry Alexander
pastor, Florence

Karl B. Allen
lawyer, Greenville

Carl L. Anderson
pastor, Georgetown

Jimmy C. Bales
retired, Eastover

Curtis Brantley
retired, Ridgeland

Robert L. Brown
retired, Hollywood

Mia Butler Garrick
businesswoman, Columbia

Gilda Cobb-Hunter
administrator, Orangeburg

Chandra E. Dillard
community relations, Greenville

Wendell G. Gilliard
consultant, Charleston

Christopher R. Hart
attorney, Columbia

Kenneth F. Hodges
pastor, Green Pond

Lonnie Hosey
administrator, Barnwell

Leon Howard
businessman, Columbia

Joseph H. Jefferson
retired, Pineville

John Richard C. King
mortician, Rock Hill

David J. Mack III
businessman, North Charleston

Harold Mitchell Jr.
executive director, Spartanburg

Elizabeth R. Munnerlyn
attorney, Bennettsville

J. Todd Rutherford
attorney, Columbia

Ronnie A. Sabb
attorney, Greeleyville

Robert Q. Williams
consultant, Darlington


Text of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (H.3403)

“In determining the meaning of any act or joint resolution of the General Assembly or in a regulation promulgated pursuant to Article 1, Chapter 23, Title 1, the words ‘person’, ‘human being’, ‘child’, and ‘individual’, must include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development.

As used in this subsection, the term ‘born alive’, with respect to a member of the species homo sapiens, means the complete expulsion or extraction from the mother of that member, at any stage of development, who after the expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion.

Nothing in this subsection may be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at any point before being ‘born alive’, as defined in this subsection.”

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