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By Ovide M. Lamontagne  ||  In her article entitled “‘Stand Your Ground’ Meets ‘Personhood’ in SC,” Associate Editor for FITSNews, Amy Lazenby, erroneously claims that South Carolina Senate bill 527, entitled the “Pregnant Women’s Protection Act” was written by Americans United for Life.  While they are similarly titled, even a cursory comparison of the text of AUL’s model law found here is not comparable to S. 527 found at here. The differences between the two are crucial, as women’s lives and the lives of their unborn children are at stake.

In her piece, Ms. Lazenby claims that the law “[w]ritten by Americans United for Life (AUL) …  presented as a stand your ground law for pregnant women, is actually intended to erode women’s access to essential reproductive health services.”  To the contrary, on page two of the Policy Guide accompanying its common-sense model law, AUL specifically states that it “cannot be used to justify criminal violence against abortion providers or anyone else.”

The “Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act,” model legislation developed in 2008 by Americans United for Life, is designed to amend a state’s existing criminal code and affirmatively provides that women may use force – even deadly force – to defend their unborn children from unlawful violence and criminal attacks. In particular, it was developed to address the rise of domestic violence against pregnant women.

Recently, similar to Ms. Lazenby’s hit-piece, a number of pro-abortion reporters and media outlets have distorted the intent and impact of AUL’s “Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act,” by suggesting AUL allows for violence against abortion providers.  This is simply untrue.  The fact is that AUL’s model law simply ensures that a pregnant woman and her unborn child are protected from unlawful criminal violence and that a woman’s decision to carry her child to term is protected.

A few specific points are worth noting.  First, the “Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act” applies only to situations in which unlawful force is being applied or imminently threatened against a pregnant woman and/or her unborn child.  Under well-established criminal jurisprudence, a person is justified in using force in the “defense of another” when unlawful force is being applied or threatened against that person. A “person” includes an unborn child under federal criminal law and the laws of 38 states.

Second, the provisions of AUL’s “Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act” are clear that the model law only comes into play only when unlawful force is being applied or threatened.  Because abortion is legal in the United States and a woman must consent to an abortion before it is performed, no reasonable reading of the “Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act” can allow it to be construed or interpreted as applying to abortion (which is a legal act and therefore not “unlawful force”) or as justifying or excusing criminal violence against those who perform legal abortions.

Third, the protections provided by the “Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act” are necessary and are supported by existing law.  All 50 states permit the use of force in specified circumstances: for self-defense, in the defense of others, and when a person reasonably believes that unlawful force is being used or will imminently be used against him/her or a third person. “Self-defense” and the “defense of others” are affirmative defenses raised by a criminal defendant that, if proven true, can provide a complete defense to criminal liability.

Far from being a law “intended to erode women’s access to essential reproductive health services,” as Ms. Lazenby asserts, AUL’s model “Pregnant Women’s Protection Act” is a common-sense approach to protect women and their unborn children from the unlawful threats of others.  Although similarly titled, South Carolina Senate bill 527 does not contain the same provisions as AUL’s model “Pregnant Women’s Protection Act” and simply saying so doesn’t make it so.  Ms. Lazenby’s pro-abortion bias unfortunately limits her ability to report her story about AUL’s alleged involvement in South Carolina Senate bill 527 in a fair and balanced way.  Pro-choice and pro-life readers alike deserve better.

ovide lamontagne

Ovide M. Lamontagne is general counsel of Americans United for Life (AUL).