File Statehouse exterior

The South Carolina Statehouse. File/AP

Some Republican state senators are trying once again to outlaw all abortions in South Carolina.

This proposal comes up nearly every session, but never goes anywhere. Most members of the General Assembly realize federal law overrides state statutes.

But supporters keep trying because they say this reflects South Carolina values. And these senators say they cherish the sanctity of human life.

If safeguarding life is their greatest concern, there are three things they could do right now:

  • Give the Department of Social Services the money to hire more caseworkers. There has been a 68 percent increase in cases of child abuse and neglect in the past few years, yet 8 percent of jobs in DSS’s Child Welfare Division remain unfilled.
  • Stop dangerous lunatics from buying guns by requiring completed background checks before sales. On Thursday alone there were reported threats of violence against schools near Charleston, Columbia and Myrtle Beach.
  • Expand Medicaid to cover the more than 170,000 state residents who don’t currently qualify but can’t afford health insurance.

All those proposals would preserve life. And the longer they are ignored, the more people might get the idea that state Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson is right.

“The Republicans claim to be pro-life, but they are only pro-birth," he says.

Hypocrisy in action?

The arguments here are somewhat incongruous.

Last week, these senators maintained the survival of an unborn fetus trumps its mother’s right to life. They told Sen. Margie Bright Matthews, D-Walterboro, an 11-year-old girl who is raped should be forced to carry any resulting pregnancy to term.

Which seems to ignore the welfare — and life — of that traumatized child.

Those concerns were dismissed as hypothetical, but there are far too many real examples of the state not protecting the children right in front of them.

One out of every six South Carolina children doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from. Eh, that’s a problem for local food banks.

Social Services caseworkers are each juggling 50 kids who’ve been abused or neglected. Sorry, can’t afford to hire more people.

About 24 percent of South Carolina children live in poverty. Well, what are you gonna do?

And then, Charleston Republican Sen. Sandy Senn wants to make it a crime to threaten violence against a school — a no-brainer if there ever was one.

But Senn had to remove the word “firearm” from her bill before lawmakers would consider it because the language offended the National Rifle Association.

So many mass killings, you know, are carried out with Nerf guns.

If lawmakers want to say they value life, that’s fine.

But if they keep demonstrating their concern for a life ends after a child leaves the womb then they’re going have to get used to being called hypocrites.

Persons or politics?

The idea here, of course, is to get South Carolina sued — and get re-elected.

Sen. Richard Cash, a Republican from Piedmont, told his colleagues they want the Personhood Act to draw a lawsuit so they can challenge the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

“A human being is a person,” Cash says.

Yes, and politics are politics. See, this always plays out the same way. They push unconstitutional legislation until it passes or somebody applies the brakes to save the state untold millions of dollars in legal fees.

Which it would in this case because the same thing has happened in other states.

But this is an election year, and these lawmakers win no matter what.

Either they campaign on the fact those heartless souls at the Statehouse stopped their efforts to end abortion or they pass it and get re-elected before the courts shut them down.

Of course, that relegates a serious social debate to the same status as baggy pants and parody marriage — a stunt to distract and attract low-information voters.

That isn’t cherishing life, that’s exploiting it for political gain.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.