An Upstate senator is accusing his Senate colleagues of turning their backs on the unborn and is vowing to repeatedly try to get a bill on the Senate calendar that that would require abortion doctors to be obstetrics and gynecology specialists with hospital privileges who are board certified.
Sen. Lee Bright, a Spartanburg County conservative who has talked of challenging U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in the Republican primary next year, said his bill is aimed at preventing a situation similar to that involving a Philadelphia doctor, Kermit Gosnell, being tried for murder in connection with a series of late-term abortions.
Prosecutors have said the doctor is accused of delivering live babies and then severing their spinal cords. A jury is deliberating his fate.
Asked by another senator if he felt anyone in the Senate would condone the actions of the doctor, Bright told the Senate he hoped not.
“I think if they had a choice between having a Kermit Gosnell in every abortion clinic versus outlawing abortion, they would have the Kermit Gosnell,” he said of some senators. “I think they are that committed to this ability to kill our unborn children.”
Bright’s bill was defeated in a subcommittee 3-2 last week.
The chairman of the subcommittee, Sen. Ray Cleary, a Georgetown dentist, told Bright that while he doesn’t want what happened in Philadelphia repeated in South Carolina, he felt the bill went beyond issues of safety for the patients.
Bright told GreenvilleOnline.com that he might not get the votes to get the bill out of committee but that he wants to get a vote.
“The chances are slim (for getting the bill on the calendar) but at least we can get a recorded vote,” he said. “Just because you turn your back to something doesn’t make it go away.”
Sen. Larry Martin, a Pickens Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told GreenvilleOnline.com that just because Bright’s bill was defeated doesn’t mean the Senate favors abortion. He said court decisions have shaped the debate on abortion, not the will of state lawmakers.
“It’s the hand that has been dealt us and no amount of posturing and personal conviction at the state level is going to change that,” he said.
Martin, who said he is pro-life, said South Carolina, unlike Pennsylvania, has outlawed partial-birth abortion.
“I think the fact that Sen. Bright came to the Senate after we had done all that, he didn’t quite have the appreciation of all the wars we’ve been through to really improve the landscape in South Carolina.”
Bright said the same proposal in his bill has passed and been implemented in Mississippi, reducing the state’s abortion clinics to one.
He said it seems the Senate is more concerned with debating landfills and trash than saving the unborn. “That’s not just an indictment, that’s a conviction,” he told the Senate.
“It’s a conviction on my heart and I wished I could get it on your hearts. I don’t know why our hearts are so hardened and so cold that we could allow a Sandy Hook every week in South Carolina, children murdered, and we stand in this body and we allow it to happen.”
Asked by Sen. Harvey Peeler of Gaffney, chairman of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee, if the bill got a fair hearing last week, Bright replied it had.
“To those 7,000 babies that didn’t get to live, they probably didn’t think it was fair,” he said. “I have to sleep at night and right now I know a way to reduce this and I want the blood off of my hands.”
He said he and others plan to form a new pro-life group in the state because they aren’t satisfied with the pro-life lobbying currently being done.
“We’ve got some in the pro-life community that are better politicians than us,” he told the Senate.
“It’s not about saving babies. It’s about getting treated nice at the reception. If you’ll give them a little something and throw them a bone and they can turn out a newsletter and keep raising money and keep people on the payroll, they’re happy.”
Bright said he may ask for a “sense-of-the-Senate” vote on the issue.
“I want people to know why we can’t do what Mississippi is doing,” he said.