The January 28th edition of World Magazine trumpeted a year of success across America for the pro-life movement. The tea party led conservative takeover of the United States Congress in 2010 overshadowed an even more significant political event that same year. Across the country state legislature after state legislature moved from left to right as conservatives gained legislative majorities. Election week 2010 began with 60 state legislature chambers controlled by Democrats and just 36 controlled by Republicans. When the dust settled after the 2010 mid-term Republicans had taken control of 19 legislatures for a total of 55 compared to just 38 under Democrat control. The last time Republicans controlled this many state house chambers Herbert Hoover was president.
How historic were conservative state house wins in 2010? Consider the fact that the state of Alabama switched from Democrat to Republican control for the first time since reconstruction. In Minnesota Republicans won the Senate for the first time ever. From sea to shining sea state houses changed from blue to red in a historic election that will have a profound effect on the political landscape in America for years to come. It was the night conservatism swept the country like a flood!
The problem is, someone forgot to open the floodgates in South Carolina. In state after state pro-life legislation was brought up for a vote, passed into law, and signed by the governor. In the 12 months since the conservative landslide 65 new laws protecting the unborn have passed in 27 states. In 27 states, Pro-life laws were strengthened, the lives of babies are being saved, and more women are being exposed to the truth about abortion.
During the same time period the South Carolina House of Representatives passed three strong pro-life bills by substantial majorities and sent them to the Senate. The Senate stalled all three bills and now all three are in danger of becoming the victim of Senate inaction. South Carolina’s legislative calendar is based on a two-year cycle.
Bills that pass one chamber in the first year of the cycle must pass the other chamber before the end of the second year in the cycle. Two of the three pro-life bills passed by the House are mired in the mud of the South Carolina Senate’s arcane rules. One of the bills, the Freedom of Conscience Act, failed to pass the Medical Affairs Committee by a seven to seven tie. That vote sent the bill from the full committee back to the sub-committee where it will likely die at the end of this legislative session. There are eight Republicans and seven Democrats on the committee. So how could there be a seven to seven tie? It’s what happens when one Republican votes with the Democrats (Sen. Raymond Cleary of Georgetown) and one conservative Republican doesn’t attend the meeting.
So now, people working in the health care industry in South Carolina who don’t want to sell out their pro-life principles and be forced to participate in abortions will have no recourse. All because one Republican decided to join the Democrats and one decided, for some reason, not so show up.
The other two bills also face uphill battles if they are going to pass before they become victims of the senate graveyard. S102, the bill that would prevent South Carolina from using taxpayer dollars to perform abortions under Obamacare, made it to the Senate floor but will have to be set for special order (the calling up of a bill that has been sent to the bottom of the stack) to have a chance to pass. So far, that bill has not been called up and therefore languishes in the Senate.
The final bill is the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. It simply states that if a baby survives an abortion it cannot be left to die even if the obvious intent of the mother was to end the child’s life. That is a bill that should have passed both chambers of the legislature without opposition since it deals with preventing infanticide. But at this writing the bill is stuck in a committee in the Senate.
The National Republican Party platform affirms the dignity of all human life. It reads in part, “We assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental, individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” There can be no doubt as to the meaning of this statement. So I am left with one, simple and somewhat troubling question. How can three pro-life bills face extinction at the end of this legislative session in a state where Republicans have a 76 to 46 advantage in the House and a 27 to 19 advantage in the Senate and where they hold every statewide constitutional office, including the Governor?
Nationwide, is has been a year of progress for conservatives. In South Carolina it has been a year of politics as usual.