Open letter to SC State Senator Larry Martin on Rape and Incest Abortion Funding
COLUMBIA, S.C. (Wednesday, April 27, 2011) --A move to strip funding for rape and incest abortions from the state employees’ health insurance plan failed by one vote Wednesday in the Republican-controlled South Carolina Senate. Senators Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, and David Thomas, R-Greenville, offered the amendment during debate on the 2011-2012 state budget.
In what is known as Part 1B, Section 80C of the state budget, the state employees’ health insurance coverage reads in part: “No funds appropriated for employer contributions to the State Health Insurance Plan may be expended to reimburse the expenses of an abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or where the mother’s medical condition is one which, on the basis of the physician’s good faith judgment, so complicates the pregnancy as to necessitate an immediate abortion to avert the risk of her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function, and the State Health Plan may not offer coverage for abortion services, including ancillary services provided contemporaneously with abortion services.”
The Bryant-Thomas amendment would have removed the six words “in cases of rape; incest or” leaving the rest of the House-passed language intact....
Senator Joel Lourie, D-Richland, moved to table (defeat) the Bryant-Thomas amendment. The motion to table passed by one vote. Those who voted against tabling the amendment were voting in favor of the Bryant-Thomas amendment.
To see how your senator voted, click here.My State Senator, Larry Martin (not to be confused with Sen. Shane Martin who voted the other way), voted to table the pro-life amendment, so I sent him the following letter.
Dear Senator Martin:Update: Senator Martin responded promptly:
I am disappointed in your vote to table the Bryant-Thomas amendment which would have banned state funding of abortions of pregnancies conceived in rape or incest. The amendment, which lost by one vote, would have changed the language of Part 1B, Section 80C of the state budget. Your vote made the difference.
Let me speak directly. You voted to use my tax money to kill babies whose fathers are criminals.
The SC GOP platform says: "We believe that the unborn and the newborn child have a fundamental right to life which must not be infringed. Accordingly, we believe that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection should apply to unborn children."
According to our party's platform, your vote was both unconstitutional and immoral.
I have appreciated many of the positions you have taken and your support for other pro-life laws. Please explain why you voted to table this amendment.
Thanks for your email and for your question about my vote on the amendment. The language in the budget proviso regarding the limited instances that involve rape, incest, or the life of the mother, in which the state health plan will pay for an abortion, is the longstanding policy of the state. It goes back to the 1980s when the pro-life US Congressman, the late Henry Hyde from Illinois, was successful in implementing the same policy for Medicaid reimbursement. The Hyde Amendment is a well settled policy in this important area, and the state health plan reflects that policy. It is something that I have supported for many years going back to my service in the House, and I’m almost certain that there are other votes in previous appropriations bills. Lastly, there are a limited number of individuals and families that are covered under COBRA policies that pay the entire employer/employee amount for their health insurance coverage under the state health plan.
Thanks again for your email as it is good to hear from you.
I appreciate Senator Martin's prompt and cordial response. The Hyde Amendment was a huge step toward stopping the government funding of abortion. At the time, the political reality apparently required that the rape and incest exception take precedence over the sanctity of human life. That's politics. Better to compromise and stop paying for 99% of the murders than lose the vote and be unable to stop any of them. At least that's the theory. (Some readers will disagree, and I respect your views.)
I am thankful for the Hyde Amendment. I think Henry Hyde probably took all the ground he could at the time. What Senator Martin is saying, however, is that the Hyde Amendment is the goal, not just a step in the right direction. In South Carolina, where the electorate is strongly pro-life, and the state government is completely in Republican hands, this isn't a matter of compromising to make progress. Senator Martin apparently thinks that tax money really should be used to murder babies in the 1% or so of unwanted pregnancies resulting from rape and incest.
For the record, the House version of the budget last year did not allow funding for rape and incest abortions, but the Senate defeated the pro-life measure. This year, both the SC House and Senate versions fund those abortions.