South Carolina Senator Reintroduces Abortion Ban Bill

February 7, 2019 Updated: February 7, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C.—A South Carolina senator has reintroduced legislation that would ban abortions in the state and possibly criminalize the act.

Nearly 100 people gathered in the Statehouse on Feb. 7, for an anti-abortion event, calling on lawmakers to pass “personhood” legislation, which would stipulate that life begins at conception and grant the unborn at that moment all rights as any other citizen.

Republican Sen. Richard Cash of Powdersville said that this year’s version of the bill ties the matter to South Carolina’s criminal code. If approved, the legislation would allow the possibility for prosecutors to pursue a criminal case against individuals who willfully perform abortions.

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South Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Cash reintroduces personhood legislation at a pro-life event inside the lobby of the Statehouse on Feb. 6, 2019. (Christina Myers/AP Photo)

“We’re not saying right now today we’re advocating some sheriff go arrest a doctor,” Cash said. But he added that if the bill is upheld in its current version, “if you’re a doctor and abortions have been re-criminalized and you kill a baby, well you’ve just committed murder.”

Gov. Henry McMaster stood alongside Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette and told the pro-life crowd that he originally supported the Personhood Act first introduced by then Sen. Kevin Bryant in 2017 and would reaffirm his commitment to the proposal.

“We must stand tall, stand together in what we believe,” McMaster said. “You send me that clear, concise personhood bill and I will sign it tomorrow.”

President Donald Trump, in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, cited recent controversies in New York and Virginia over late-term abortions, and urged Congress “to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in a mother’s womb.”

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President Donald Trump listens during the National Prayer Breakfast, in Washington, on Feb. 7, 2019. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

Legislation to achieve that goal failed to win passage even when Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress. It has virtually no chance of success now that Democrats control the House.

Nonetheless, anti-abortion legislators and activists believe Trump has bolstered their cause with his appointments of conservative Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Abortion opponents foresee the possibility that the high court might either reverse Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion, or uphold specific state laws that would undermine Roe.

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Anti-abortion activists participate in the “March for Life,” an annual event to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the US, outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, on Jan. 18, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

“This bill obviously has some unintended consequences that would penalize medical providers in a greater extent than one would think,” said Malloy who was instrumental in orchestrating last year’s filibuster. “It was only just last session that there was a resounding defeat. I understand this is a new legislative session, but I think that this single issue by the senator is something that should be subordinate to (the) real needs of our state.”

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People pray in the gallery of the Oklahoma House of Representatives chamber during Rose Day, an annual anti-abortion event, at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, on Feb. 6, 2019. (Nate Billings/The Oklahoman via AP)

The bill currently has five Republican co-sponsors and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

By Christina L. Myers