By: Victoria Middleton, Executive Director of ACLU of SC
Why would anyone oppose something that sounds like it supports pregnant women? Because it hurts women more than it helps them. The ACLU of South Carolina opposes S.527, the so-called “Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act,” because, unlike the bill’s sponsors, we care about women’s reproductive health. We of course understand the tremendous suffering to family and friends when a daughter, sister or wife is the victim of a heinous act of violence – particularly when she is carrying an expected child. We would support laws that help such women and urge our elected officials to promote preventive measures and interventions to reduce the scope of domestic violence in our state. However, although this bill purports to address domestic violence, in actuality it would do nothing to support a woman working to escape an abusive relationship. A pregnant woman who acts in self-defense out of fear for her pregnancy would also be acting out of fear for her own safety. There is no need to add an additional, redundant statute, when the laws of this state already address the circumstances in which a person may act in their own defense. Furthermore, we are concerned that this bill seeks to separate a woman from her pregnancy in the law. The intent behind this bill may be to enact a first step toward eroding a woman’s personal, private medical decision about her pregnancy. The ACLU of South Carolina supports laws that help a woman who has experienced domestic violence. There are a host of real ways the South Carolina Legislature can support domestic violence survivors. For example, we encourage the state to work with law enforcement to ensure that protective orders are properly enforced and to strengthen police response to domestic violence. But this bill would provide no additional protection to a woman in a dangerous situation. Instead, it may have eventual consequences for private medical decisions of a woman and her doctor.
Click here to thank the senators who voted “no” on S.527 in subcommittee!