The following is but one of the many pieces of testimony that was given in opposition to S.527, the so-called Pregnant Women’s Protection Act.
By David Matos
The Carolina Peace Resource Center is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization committed to education and advocacy on peace and social justice concerns in South Carolina and beyond. We have been quite concerned on the issue ofd gun violence and have staked out a principled middle ground that balances the right to own firearms and act in self-defense with the need for public safety. As such, we have called for the repeal of South Carolina's Stand Your Ground law, believing Stand Your Ground to contribute more to violence than it does to enhancing the right of self-defense.
I write to you today to express the Carolina Peace Resource Center's concern with and opposition to S.527, a bill that is another controversial Stand Your Ground bill.
Although the words "Stand Your Ground" do not appear in the language of the bill, it is clear from that language that it is indeed a Stand Your Ground bill. Stand Your Ground has two unacceptable unintended consequences. For one, it has created a new way for the guilty to avoid being held culpable for their actions. Whether for premeditated murder or after the fact manslaughter, the Stand Your Ground defense has become the new way to beat the rap in the courtroom. Thus, Stand Your Ground actually undermines our justice system. Pass this bill and you will see the "pregnancy" defense added to the Stand Your Ground criminal defense repertoire.
Secondly, and more importantly, Stand Your Ground scraps centuries of self-defense tradition in favor of a trigger-happy vigilante stance that makes South Carolina more dangerous, not less so. Legitimate self-defense requires evading a threat if possible, with perhaps the Castle Doctrine exceptions of when one is in one's home, business or car. Stand Your Ground deletes this prudent "duty to retreat" and replaces it with a dangerous "shoot first" Stand Your Ground mentality. Indeed, Stand Your Ground posits lethal force as a first resort rather than as a last resort, with no sense of proportionality or prudence. This is not legitimate self-defense: it is license and a recipe for tragedy. Anecdotal and empirical evidence is gradually pilling up that Stand Your Ground leads to an increase in questionable homicides that could have been avoided if prudent rules of engagement for self-defense were followed. Because of these concerns, two recent editorials from the Rock Hill Herald and the Spartan burg Herald-Journal have been critical of Stand Your Ground. The Herald-Journal's March 9th op-ed "State Law Should Reinforce That Shooting Someone is Last Resort to Preserve Life" should be required reading for anyone considering these issues. We are furnishing you with a copy of this editorial. We hope that you will see that S.527 would reinforce a reckless, trigger-happy approach to self-defense rather than a prudent, principled one.
Apart from objections to Stand Your Ground, there is one last cogent reason to oppose S.527: it is simply unnecessary and superfluous. A pregnant woman already has a right to self-defense, even without the Stand Your Ground proviso. Groups dealing with violence against women will tell you this is unneeded.
David Matos, President of the Board, Carolina Peace Resource Center