The South Carolina Pastors Alliance held a news conference at the Statehouse calling out senators who failed to pass a personhood bill that stipulated life begins at conception and an embryo would have all the rights of a citizen. The measure was pushed by Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant and endorsed by Gov. Henry McMaster, both of whom are seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination this year.
Alliance Executive Director Mike Gonzalez said senators had an opportunity to do something "righteous" and "historic," during the regular session and said nonsupport from GOP members was an indictment of the party.
"Through the weeds of Senate rules, political pragmatism and the fear of judiciary, you chose to let it guide you to a graveyard of contested bills," Gonzalez said in an open letter to senators.
The personhood bill introduced last year and sponsored by 18 Republicans and one Democrat senator failed to reach debate on the Senate floor, however another bill that seemed to breathe life into anti-abortion proponents also met its demise earlier this month.
Senators did not pass a dismemberment bill that would also have banned abortions except in cases of incest, rape or mother's risk to life. The dismemberment procedure was only performed 22 times out of 5,736 abortions in South Carolina in 2016. The measure failed when Democrats held the Senate floor during an hours-long filibuster.
Field Director Kevin Baird said The Pastors Alliance was disappointed specifically in six senators who he said promote themselves as 'anti-abortion' but stifled the progress of anti-abortion legislation and have been doing so for years.
One of those senators called out was Republican Sen. Paul Campbell of Goose Creek, who said he's completely against abortion, but implementing a ban is a federal not a state issue.
"I don't like abortion," the Goose Creek senator said. "I just don't think the state can pre-empt federal law. If we tried to stop abortion in South Carolina, it would be enjoined by Planned Parenthood and we would spend a lot of money on it."
Gonzalez said lawmakers will be held accountable by God and political strategy is not an excuse for failing to pass legislation.
"You don't need cheerleading to do what is right, you need courage," Gonzalez said.
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