As I pointed out in my last column, too often bills assigned to committees in the South Carolina Senate go there to die. The Born Alive Infant Protection Act, sponsored by South Carolina Citizens for Life, was dispatched to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee early in this legislative session. The bill is one of three pro-life pieces of legislation that faces extinction if no action is taken before the end of this legislative session. The abortion coverage opt out of Obama Care has been set for ‚Äúspecial order‚ÄĚ and will likely be debated and voted on this week. The Freedom of Conscience Act failed to receive enough votes from the Senate‚Äôs Medical Affairs Committee to be sent to the floor and was sent back to the sub-committee on a seven to seven vote effectively killing it for this session.

Until last week, it appeared the Born Alive bill would also suffer the fate of Senate committee limbo. But we now know the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the bill on Wednesday, March 7th at 9:00am in room 308 of the Gressette Building. The hearing comes at a crucial point in the legislative session as time is running out for advancing bills that are in the second year of a two-year cycle. For now, the bill rests in the hands of Committee Chairman Jake Knotts and committee members Chip Campsen, Phil Shoopman, Gerald Malloy and Brad Hutto.

Some may say the bill is redundant because the language mirrors the Federal Born Alive Protection Act passed by Congress in 2002. However, current law leaves unanswered the question of when precisely a human baby without legal protection becomes a legal person who is protected by law. The bill before the Judiciary Committee precisely and with indisputable language extends legal protection to infants who are alive at the time of their birth. It clarifies the meaning of ‚Äúborn alive‚ÄĚ by describing it as ‚Äúcomplete expulsion or extraction from his or her mother followed by a heartbeat and respiration or movement of voluntary muscles.

Because South Carolina has not adequately defined the line between fetus and legal person, infants are often treated with a horrific disregard that should shock the conscience. A story that has made the rounds since 2003 relates how workers at a Columbia laundry facility found the body of a premature infant in with the dirty linens from a Clarendon County hospital. This story was confirmed and reported by The State newspaper. More recently, a number of Upstate news outlets reported the story of an infant born alive and left to die in a Greenville BI-LO Center toilet.

This critical life issue arises when an abortion procedure results in a terminated pregnancy with an infant that is alive after the procedure. There are still abortions where labor is induced as a method of terminating the pregnancy. However, there are other abortion procedures that can result in an unintended live birth. The most famous abortion survivor is Gianna Jesson, who survived a saline abortion at eight months gestational age. Gianna was twenty-three yeas old when she testified before the U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee in 2000.

Most South Carolinians are horrified at the thought of a baby being terminated after it leaves the womb. Babies left to die because the mother’s intent was to abort take us beyond the slippery slope of moral relativism and into the bottomless pit of infanticide.

We must not rest until every baby is protected in the womb, welcomed in life, and shielded from even the remotest possibility of infanticide.

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