Categories: Legislation

South Carolina House Passes Fetal Pain Act by Overwhelming 84-29 vote

 

By Holly Gatling, executive director, South Carolina Citizens for Life

In an unprecedented victory for unborn children, the South Carolina House passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H4223) by an overwhelming vote of 84-29. The vote included 70 Republicans and 14 Democrats. All 29 votes against the bill were Democrats.

South Carolina Citizens for Life, the state’s oldest and largest single-issue pro-life organization, sent a final letter Tuesday night to all the members of the House urging them to vote for the fetal pain law that protects unborn children from abortion when they can feel pain. That is documented to be by the 20th week after fertilization, if not sooner. We describe the bill as “our organization’s top legislative priority for 2014.”

Representative Wendy Nanney, R-Greenville, introduced the bill and explained that it prohibits the abortion of unborn children who have developed the ability to feel pain. Modern scientific research shows the unborn child can feel pain by 20 weeks after fertilization, if not before. She noted that similar language has passed in 11 other states.

Representative Robert Ridgeway III, one of the 14 Democrats who supported the bill and who is an OBGYN from Clarendon, offered to answer questions about fetal development and noted that “it is important to stand for those who are most vulnerable.”

Representative Donna Wood, R-Spartanburg, projected onto a large screen a photograph of an unborn child at 20 weeks and spoke about the fact that surgeons who operate on unborn children anesthetize the unborn patient. Countering spurious arguments that the fetal pain law is unconstitutional, Representative Wood said unborn babies “are worth fighting for.”

After the vote, Representative Greg Delleney, R-Chester, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and long-time pro-life advocate, described the day’s legislative work as “perfect.” The bill first cleared his committee to reach the floor of the House.

SCCL regards this bill as the most important single piece of pro-life legislation to come before the House since the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was enacted in 1997. The Pain-Capable bill would extend protection to unborn children who have reached 20 weeks fetal age based on findings that by that point, if not before, they have attained the capacity to experience great pain as they are being aborted.

In testimony before the General Laws Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, Margaret Brinley, Ph.D., a neuroscientist, testified that when doing her doctoral research she was required to provide proof that the lab rats would not feel pain. “We have higher standards of protecting lab rats from pain than we do for unborn children,” said Lisa Van Riper, president of SCCL.

Our letter to the House members also warned that SCCL “will regard a vote against this legislation as a vote to allow unlimited abortion in the sixth month or later and that is the way it will be reported in our scorecard of key right-to-life roll call votes in the 2014 session and in subsequent communications from South Carolina Citizens for Life to grassroots pro-life citizens.”

The bill should receive third reading in the House on Thursday, March 20, and cross over to the Senate where a tough battle ensues to pass the bill before the end of the 2014 session in June.

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