Health Reproductive Rights

South Carolina “Personhood Amendment” Fails to Make it on the Ballot

A South Carolina bill that would have put a referendum for a “personhood amendment” on the ballot in November fell short of the necessary two-thirds votes needed to bring it up for consideration on the Senate agenda before the end of June.

South Carolina State Senator Lee Bright, who lost his primary race last month, failed to gain the necessary votes, largely due to his conservative colleagues’ concern that the measure, if passed by South Carolina voters, would not hold up to judicial scrutiny. The referendum would have asked voters whether or not to add language to the state constitution that classified life as beginning at the moment of conception, effectively outlawing abortion.

The personhood bill sought to grant full constitutional rights to all fertilized eggs, including due process and equal protection under the law. Speaking with The State, Bright explicitly highlighted the bill’s purpose to overturn Roe v. Wade, which he describes as “one of [his] missions in life.”

Senate Bill 129 would have effectively outlawed not only abortions but also emergency contraception, IUDs and birth control pills. Intrauterine devices such as Mirena, for example, prevent pregnancy in part by changing the lining of the uterus so implantation cannot occur. Even procedures that enable pregnancy like In Vitro Fertilization could be threatened, because IVF requires doctors to have access to many fertilized eggs, some of which will not be implanted.

Politicians have proposed the personhood amendment in the South Carolina legislature every year since 1998, but it has never left the Judiciary Committee.


South Carolina Radio Network 5/12/16; The State 4/12/16; Guttmacher Institute 5/6/05; South Carolina State House 12/3/14; American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 6/12/14; Association of Reproductive Health Professionals; Tell Them South Carolina; Parents Against Personhood.

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