". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13

Commentary

South Carolina Could Become 20th State to Protect Life at Conception

This week, South Carolina faces the opportunity to join the ranks of states with laws on the books that protect life at conception — a move that would raise the total number of states to 20. Given that another 20 states in the U.S. currently allow legal abortions at any point in pregnancy, for any reason, the line in the sand between pro-life and pro-death states is quickly solidifying.

Currently, South Carolina’s law protects unborn children from abortion beginning at detection of a baby’s heartbeat around 5- or 6-weeks’ gestation. Though this life-affirming law is leaps and bounds better than states like Washington or Maine, where a baby could legally be killed on their day of birth, members of the South Carolina state legislature have demonstrated willingness to progress their state even further in the protection of the unborn.

The South Carolina House originally passed a strong pro-life bill protecting babies at conception, with exceptions only for rape and incest; the state Senate, however, rejected the proposed bill and sought to reaffirm the state’s current heartbeat bill. The state House once again sent the original life at conception bill back to the Senate, which will determine the bill’s ultimate fate on Tuesday, October 18.

In a recent op-ed, Republican state senators Tom Davis and Katrina Shealy verbalized their disapproval of the life at conception bill on the grounds that it is “time to bring reasonableness back to the [South Carolina] abortion debate.” Reasonableness, it appears, means sticking to the status quo and rejecting a commonsense law that moves the ball forward in the goal of protecting all unborn lives.

One of the senators’ main complaints with the life at conception bill? It protects unborn children who receive a prenatal diagnosis of a life-limiting fetal anomaly — meaning, it protects children whose diagnoses are associated with a very short life.

There can be no doubt that receiving a prenatal diagnosis that your child may die shortly after birth is heartbreaking, tragic news. However, it is not within the power of legislators to redefine morality to determine that killing a human child is acceptable in any circumstance — even if done for “love” or with the intent of minimizing grief.

In fact, allowing the legislature to rule that children can be aborted after receiving a life-limiting prenatal diagnosis can cause far greater grief for mothers. One study found that almost 70% of mothers who choose to abort a “wanted” child (meaning, a child that they are aborting for extenuating circumstances such as a prenatal diagnosis) experience depression, anxiety disorder, and suicidal thoughts.

Furthermore, trauma-informed programs that serve families who have received difficult prenatal diagnoses can attest to the fact that doctors are not God, and therefore cannot determine with certainty how long any child may live, with or without a prenatal diagnosis. Every child deserves a chance at life — a prenatal diagnosis doesn’t change that.

Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, lazy pro-abortion policymakers have been able to ignore the real trials and struggles that mothers, babies, and families face with the simple solution that, in any difficult situation, the mother can legally abort the child to erase the problem. Bring them your poor, your victims of sexual assault, your mothers of babies with special needs — abortion will fix everything (or, at least, take the pressure off the government to do anything that actually helps women.)

Don’t want an abortion? At least they offered — what more do you expect?

Make no mistake: there is nothing more reasonable than changing a law to conform to the scientific evidence that life begins at conception (otherwise known as fertilization). It is reasonable to join the 19 other pro-life states in the country that have agreed that the law should reflect the biological reality of when life begins, rather than relying upon any arbitrary checkpoint in gestation. It is reasonable to protect every innocent human life, regardless of prenatal diagnosis.

South Carolina must pass the life at conception bill — it is the reasonable thing to do.

Joy Stockbauer is a policy analyst for the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Connor Semelsberger is Director of Federal Affairs - Life and Human Dignity at Family Research Council.