Two weeks after President Donald Trump signed a bill that will make it easier for states to defund Planned Parenthood, the South Carolina Senate has taken a major step in conservatives' effort to make abortions impossible within their borders.
On Wednesday, Sens. Mike Gambrell, Rex Rice, and Scott Talley voted in favor of a so-called "personhood" bill that would legally define a human being as a fertilized human egg, according to a report by The Post and Courier. The the two female senators on the panel voted against the measure.
The personhood bill is very unlikely to be passed by the time the 2017 legislative year ends next month. When the full Senate Judiciary Committee convenes next year, the bill will be held under consideration.
Critics of the bill claim that it will effectively outlaw abortion in all circumstances (including during rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in jeopardy). They also note that the bill would have far-reaching ramifications beyond the issue of abortion, potentially undermining access to birth control, in vitro fertilization, and even cancer treatments that could potentially harm a fertilized egg. The state lobbyist for Planned Parenthood, Vicki Ringer, has also argued that it will be very expensive for the state of South Carolina to defend the personhood bill against the inevitable judicial challenges if it passes. Nevertheless, Ringer also told The Post and Courier that she recognized her testimony against the bill on Wednesday was "an exercise in futility."
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