An effort to kickstart stalled legislation in the state Senate that would grant legal rights for the unborn at the time of conception failed Wednesday in a procedural vote.
Supporters of a “personhood” amendment to the state constitution moved to set the amendment to special order Wednesday. The maneuver would have effectively placed the bill towards the top of the Senate agenda and required a two-thirds vote.
The vote came up short largely because even many anti-abortion senators voted against it, arguing it would likely be struck down in court and would take up much of the Senate’s remaining debate time the last three weeks of this year’s session.
State Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, spoke for many when he said “personhood” would do nothing to stop abortions. “I’m probably as pro-life as any member in this chamber,” Campsen said on the floor of the Senate Wednesday afternoon. “I completely agree with the notion that you have a human life at the moment of conception, a person. But I also went to law school and as a matter of law I think this proposal has no reasonable chance of outlawing abortion.”
Supporters had hoped that if it did pass, the measure could have created a legal case that would eventually make its way to the US Supreme Court and possibly lead to the court reconsider its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that ended abortion bans.
The bill would have asked voters to decide in a referendum whether or not to add language in the state constitution protecting a fetus at the age of conception.