By Holly Gatling, executive director, South Carolina Citizens for Life
The General Laws Subcommittee of the South Carolina House Judiciary Committee today gave a favorable report to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, moving H 4223 to the full Judiciary Committee. A hearing by the full committee is expected next week.
To date, 10 states have passed this protective law, and there is action in other state legislatures as well.
Mary Spaulding Balch, JD, director of State Legislation for the National Right to Life Committee and architect of the model language, earlier explained to the subcommittee panel that the law creates a compelling state interest in protecting the unborn child from abortion when the child is capable of feeling pain.
Substantial medical research recognized that point to be at 20 weeks.
During a continuation of the hearing on Tuesday, opponents of the bill, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), defended late abortions especially for children diagnosed to have disabilities. A spokesperson complained that the law has no exceptions for killing disabled children before birth.
Countering the ACOG position, Kathy Schmugge, director of the Family Life Office for the Diocese of Charleston, told the subcommittee that killing “less than perfect” unborn children is “prenatal euthanasia.”
The “choice of deciding to euthanize a child that is less than perfect,” she said, “would never be a choice a civilized world would make.”
Mrs. Schmugge spoke about organizations that help families who are expecting a child to be born with disabilities. She spoke of her personal experience with a family whose child lived to celebrate her second birthday.
“I have never seen a child more loved, more appreciated by family and extended family,” she told the subcommittee. The baby’s “second birthday was the most joyous, most celebrated time.”
Mrs. Schmugge urged the panel to “Be in favor of the moms and these children.” She also told the panel that “Disabled people matter whether they are in or out of the womb.”
Lisa Van Riper, president of South Carolina Citizens for Life said, “We applaud the subcommittee for moving this bill forward. To continue abortion after a child can feel pain is not only an assault on human life but on human decency.” She added, “We look forward to swift passage of this bill by the South Carolina General Assembly.”
The bill’s chief sponsor is Representative Wendy Nanney, a mother of five children. Other prestigious members of the General Assembly who have co-sponsored the bill include Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Representative Greg Delleney. As of Wednesday, the bill has 36 sponsors.
The bill is supported by a coalition of pro-life and pro-family organizations including South Carolina Citizens for Life, the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, Palmetto Family Council, and North Greenville University’s Christian World View Center.