Open Letter on Personhood and Dismemberment Legislation

by Senator Richard Cash | 4/29/18

On Thursday, April 26th, the SC Senate voted to set H3548 (Dismemberment) to special order so that it can be brought to the floor for debate. This came after a vote for special order failed on Wednesday. I voted in the affirmative both times. However, since I will be offering amendments to H3548, including a Personhood amendment, I believe it is appropriate for me to explain my stance on H3548 to pro-lifers. 

Since I arrived in the SC Senate, I have made it clear that my number one priority is to end the killing of unborn babies, and that I believe that the Personhood bill is the best way forward toward that objective. I founded Personhood SC in 2015 with this in mind and anyone who is familiar with my campaign for office knows that although I talked about all the issues on the table, I always referenced ending the killing of unborn babies if I was asked what the most important issue was or what my highest priority was. There is simply nothing more important than ending the shedding of innocent blood and establishing justice for unborn babies.

My interest in Personhood legislation did not begin in 2015, but goes all the way back to 1998 and the first Personhood bill in SC. Along with a pastor, I met with Sen. Mike Fair and the late Rep. Terry Haskins and asked them to sponsor Personhood. They did, and similar bills have been introduced many times since then. 

However, 20 years have gone by, and the SC Senate has yet to bring a Personhood bill to the floor. Many other pro-life bills have been acted on, but not Personhood. Why? Well, most pro-life bills are incremental in nature and seek to slowly chip away at abortion rights, whereas Personhood goes straight to the fundamental issues and seeks to abolish abortion as soon as possible. Incremental bills provide an easy vote for pro-life politicians, whereas Personhood presents a hard vote on the most difficult aspects of the debate. 

Over the past 20 years, many incremental bills have been passed, and undoubtedly lives have been saved as a result. However, during that same time period over 130,000 unborn babies have been killed by abortion in SC. The current incremental bill, Dismemberment, will apply to less than one percent of abortions; only 22 abortions out of the 5,736 that took place in 2016 were done by dismemberment. Surely something more is needed.

This brings me to the current dilemma: Dismemberment has been set for special order while Personhood has not. Over the past two months I have expressed some concerns about the Dismemberment bill. One problem is that while the bill would prevent the dismemberment of living babies, it does not prevent the abortionist from killing the baby via injection and then dismembering the baby, nor does it prevent the abortionist from killing the same baby by some other method. This and other flaws in the bill exist because it is written to intentionally avoid a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade in the hope of being upheld by the courts. Personhood, meanwhile, is written to challenge the fundamental error of Roe v. Wade and provide a basis to overturn it. While Dismemberment presents a great opportunity to talk about the humanity of the unborn baby, it might not save a single baby from being killed.

My concerns about the Dismemberment bill should not be taken as criticism of its proponents. Like me, they are very committed and sincere in their pro-life work. We share the same goal of abolishing human abortion, and we believe in the same principles of personhood. We simply disagree on some aspects of strategy. 

To try and accommodate both pro-life bills, back in March I suggested to Republican Senate members and supporters of the Dismemberment bill, that the best approach would be to bring both Dismemberment and Personhood to the floor and let them be voted on without amendment. I appealed for help to accomplish this and made it clear that if both bills were brought forward, I would not object to Dismemberment when it was being debated. Because of what I consider to be fatal flaws, I would not vote for it as written, but neither would I vote against it. 

During that time, however, I also made it clear that if Personhood, which has been out of committee since February, was pushed aside I would not sit quietly. The stakes are too high not to attempt to pass Personhood, challenge Roe v. Wade, and end the killing of all unborn babies. At this time, amending the Dismemberment bill is the only possible way to do that. In 2016, 5,736 unborn babies were killed in the womb in SC, including 22 by dismemberment. When the debate begins, I intend to speak on behalf of all 5,736 of those precious lives.

Ashley’s Story

King David says in Psalm 139:13-16 “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your Book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” 

Everyone has a birthday. We have one every year; the day we were born; our birth date. For most this day, our birth day, was anticipated, celebrated, and met with great joy. For me, this simply wasn’t the case.

I have imagined the scenario over and over again in my mind. It’s February, probably around Valentine’s Day. A young woman is picked up for a date; a night on the town. Her boyfriend is handsome, charming, persuasive. The night was going well, but then things took a turn for the worse. They called it date rape. And nine months later, here I was. Born to a woman who didn’t want me, didn’t plan me, didn’t want to know if I was a girl or boy. Unplanned, unwanted, and yet saved from the unthinkable, yet socially acceptable—an abortion. 

I’ve always known I was adopted. I remember my parents sitting me down and explaining it to me. I remember the rejection I felt, the hurt. They loved me so much and wanted to help me deal with this flood of emotions, but they didn’t know how it felt. They couldn’t. They knew where they came from. I didn’t. This internal struggle continued for years. Little did I know that I only knew part of the story…

I was in high school when I found out my birth mother was raped. My mother and I were driving down Haywood Rd, probably headed to the mall for one thing or another. I can’t remember what led us to talk about it, but I can remember my mom looking at me and plainly stating, “Well Ashley, your birth mother was raped.” I remember staring out the car window thinking, “You’re a product of evil; you were never meant to be.” The enemy sure has a way with words. I lived with those nagging feelings, those hating thoughts for years. Feeling like I was somehow predestined for something horrible because, well, that’s how my life began, right? I was pathetic, or at least that’s what I kept telling myself. Thinking back on that day, I can vividly remember what my mom so casually stated and how Satan was turning Truth into lies. I wasn’t telling myself that I wasn’t meant to be, the enemy was telling me YOU weren’t meant to be; anything to bring me down and question my life’s purpose. I can’t imagine being raped and then finding out I was pregnant with my rapist’s child. I remember justifying how an abortion would be somehow acceptable in the case of rape. I mean, how could you expect a woman to carry a child that was conceived under such horrible and evil means? Oh wait, that could’ve been me… I was questioning everything: my self-worth, even my existence. Thoughts of suicide came and went. I never acted on it and always shrugged off the thought of doing so. It wasn’t until I sought God’s voice in my life that those thoughts began to disappear. Little did I know God was calling me to Him. He wanted me? Couldn’t be. You don’t know about me, where I came from… Yes Ashley, God, wants you. HE knows you—HE created you—HE loves you.

 Galatians 1:15-16 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…. 

You see, I wasn’t a mistake. 

The profit Jeremiah says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5).

God knew what was going to happen the day I was conceived, and He had a plan for my life.

I entered high school and met the man I would later marry in choir. We became best friends instantly. Later, another friend of mine, Sara Cziraky, introduced me to The Lord, and I was saved at a youth function, but like so many young people, I didn’t do anything with it. I was a stagnant Christian.

My husband and I dated for many years before we were married in 2003. We joined a church and I began to grow in my faith. In 2008, we decided we wanted to grow our family. You can imagine our joy when we found out we were pregnant after the second month of trying! It was July 4th when we told our friends and family that we were pregnant. One week later we would be in the ER, mourning the loss of that baby. Again, I began to tell myself that I was worthless. How can I be any good, I can’t even carry a child? I began to think back to how I was conceived. Those hateful nagging thoughts returned with a vengeance. You’re a product of evil. You were never meant to be. Why would YOU be allowed to have a child. But this time I was prepared. I knew God loved me. I knew who HE was and who I was in Him. I called on The Lord like I never had before! I wept to My God asking Him to hold me and carry me because I couldn’t do it alone. I can honestly say that on that Saturday morning, curled up on my couch, hot tears streaming down my face, that The Lord wrapped His arms around me and I could feel it. I could literally feel His arms holding me. I grew closer to Him than ever before. I fully relied on Him to get me through that time in my life. I surrendered. One month later we were surprised to find out that we were again pregnant. This time, we would be blessed with an almost 9-pound healthy baby boy! Four years later we again wanted to grow our family. We began praying. We, again, became pregnant fairly quickly. We would face 5 diagnosed miscarriages, a surgery, the death of my father, and the moving in of my disabled mother, not to mention 2 moves before The Lord blessed us with an over 9-pound baby girl! Through every trial, every hard time The Lord was there. He never left me. When I was angry, when I was hurt, when I didn’t think I could take another step, HE was there-taking those steps for me, carrying me through it all! When I was ready to give up, He breathed new life into me. HE was my sustainer and my rock. My Lord was always there.

I don’t always understand, in the midst of the storm, why The Lord does things the way He does. But looking back I can always see His hand in it. I have learned over my life to trust in Him and His plan. That no matter what we are going through, it’s a part of His plan. And His plan is always perfect. You see, God takes bad situations and makes something beautiful!  

I am a child of God, and made in His image.

Romans 8:14-17: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

I am here to share God’s good news and plan for your life and mine. I am alive, not by mistake, but by His grace.  I could have easily been aborted and tossed aside. It is by God’s Grace and God’s plan that I am here today, speaking to you!

The profit Jeremiah wrote, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11).

We must all remember that God has a plan for our lives. We may not see it or even understand what it is. All we can do is daily seek His face and His will. We must not get discouraged when we feel like the world has turned its back on us-it has! But GOD hasn’t turned His back on us! God was, and still is, in control. 

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

I was conceived in rape. It was a horrible, evil act upon my birth mother. She was physically and emotionally violated. But I didn’t deserve the death penalty. I was an innocent life. I thank God that My birth mother valued life enough to choose life. Today, there are so many that aren’t that fortunate. 

An article on abortionfacts.com says it best…

“A child conceived in rape is just as precious as a child conceived in love, because a child is a child. The violence of abortion is no solution to the violence of rape. The killing of the innocent by abortion is no solution to the hurting of the innocent by rape. Abortion is an act of violence that kills a living human being. The circumstances surrounding the conception do not change this simple reality. Rape and abortion share this in common. They are both acts of violent assault against an innocent victim. Aborting a child conceived through rape simply extends this pattern of violence and victimhood. It does not ’un-rape’ the woman, but it will almost certainly increase her regret and misery.”

I ask you to remember my story. Remember me when you are given the chance to stand up for those who don’t have a voice. Remember that I am that “exception” so many in the political world are ok with aborting. 

I will leave you with this last thought…

What did I do to deserve to die? What made my life any less valuable than any other? 

Local pro-life woman responds to Sandy Senn‘s troubling opposition to Personhood…

My name is Madeleine Herron, and I am a pro-life Charleston resident. Although I am not a Republican myself, I was initially excited to learn that my district is represented by Republican Senator Sandy Senn, as she also calls herself pro-life.

I belong to a generation that is increasingly aware of the need to address human rights violations in our society, and is therefore increasingly trending pro-life. We are ready for legislation to reflect our concern for disenfranchised members of our society. I am ready to see my SC State Senator accurately represent that concern by helping to enact the Personhood Act of South Carolina, a bill that would ensure the legal protection of all human beings from their earliest stages of life.

As the Personhood Act of South Carolina (S.217) was brought to the SC Senate Judiciary Committee for discussion and votes on February 20, I was hopeful that Senator Senn would vote in favor of it. She opted instead to abstain from voting, saying that she had some reservations about the bill in its current form, but did not want to vote against a pro-life measure. She voted in favor of the proposed amendment to improve the bill.

I am incredibly thankful that Senator Senn abstained from voting against S.217 in the judiciary committee meeting, as her abstention allowed the bill to move to the Senate floor for further discussion and refinement. I am also thankful for Senator Senn’s commitment to engaging in ongoing dialogue with her constituents on this extremely important issue, and for her openness in updating her constituents on her position on the bill, as well as her reasons for holding that position.

However, I would like to address some concerns I have with Senator Senn’s most recent update concerning S.217, wherein she states that this bill will likely not have her vote going forward.

Read moreLocal pro-life woman responds to Sandy Senn‘s troubling opposition to Personhood…

Eli’s Story

by Dr. Matt & Amanda Roberson

Several years ago, my wife Amanda and I had been blessed with beautiful twins, Jack and Sadie. A healthy son, a healthy daughter, a happy marriage and a joyful home are wonderful things to enjoy. We eventually decided try to have another child. Amanda’s first pregnancy was a little anxious due to the threat of premature labor and other factors mostly related to a twin pregnancy. We both felt like we had more room in our hearts for another child and on some level, I think she wanted to have a ‘normal’ pregnancy (more about that later). Our children were joyous and beautiful like a Pinterest photo or the picture that comes with the frame. Our home was full of adorably mispronounced words, little feet running to welcome me home from work, preschool art, and reading time. Life was good.

As is usually the case, Amanda knew before I did. I came home to see Jack and Sadie wearing shirts that said “I’m a Big Brother” and “I’m a Big Sister” respectively. Amanda’s excitement had obviously spilled over to them. They ran wide eyed around our kitchen not fully grasping what all the excitement was about. We were over the moon!

At about 18 weeks, Amanda went to see her doctor just to have a question answered about Eli. Since it was an unscheduled visit, I was at work rather than being with her. Normally she wouldn’t have seen her doctor again until 20 weeks for the ‘anatomy’ ultrasound. The ultrasonographer kindly offered to try the anatomy ultrasound early since it was so close to 20 weeks. Who wouldn’t want an extra peek at their growing baby, right? As the gray and black of the ultrasound images flashed across the screen, the ultrasonographer’s face turned white. “I’m going to go get the doctor” she offered as she awkwardly left the room. A doctor then hastily entered and performed his own scan, and his faced paled as well…

Read moreEli’s Story

Cloture Commitments for S217

Find contact information for all senators here.

Updated: 4:28 p.m., Tuesday, March 20

The Senate Majority Leader and Rules Committee Chairman, Senator Shane Massey, should be prayed for AND emailed AND called daily. Ask Sen. Massey to set personhood for special order without delay. He is the majority leader and the rules committee chairman, and he has the leadership and the authority to do this.

The following senators are committed to vote for cloture:

Cash, Timmons, Goldfinch, Climer, Rice, Talley, Shealy, Martin, Corbin, Peeler, Verdin, Gregory

The following senators are not committed to vote for cloture and are the highest priority to contact:

Email AND Call daily: Williams, Bennett, Leatherman, Campbell

The following Democrats have supported Personhood legislation in the past but have yet to give support this year (ask for cloture commitment):

Email AND Call daily: Reese, Jackson

The following Republican senators have yet to support S217 (ask for support of S217 before asking for cloture commitment):

Email AND call daily: Senn, Rankin, Campsen

The following Democrat senators have yet to support S217:

Allen, Fanning, Hutto, Johnson, Kimpson, Malloy, Matthews, Bright Matthews, McElveen, McLeod, Nicholson, Sabb, Scott, Setzler, Sheheen