‘Major accomplishments’

Open Letter

I would like to respond to State Representative Chip Huggins’ report of “major accomplishments” from the last legislative session that appeared in the July 15th edition of the Irmo News.

While claiming to champion “preserving life,” Huggins and his fellow Republicans appear to be only pro-BIRTH, not pro-life.

If they were pro-life, they would have eliminated the death penalty rather than allowing executions using the barbaric means of electrocution.

If they were pro-life, they would have passed measures to limit the epidemic of gun violence, rather than blocking federal efforts to promote gun safety or passing bills to make it easier for people to purchase and carry firearms. Instead, they relaxed the qualifications to become a CWP holder and passed the “Constitutional Carry Bill,” which allows any person to carry a handgun WITHOUT A PERMIT. How is this “pro-life”? If more people with more guns really made us safer, Americans would not be 27 times more likely to die from gun violence than people in other advanced countries.

If they were pro-life, they would have left health-related decisions to education administrators and infectious disease experts rather than requiring in-person classroom instruction well before young children were eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. If they were pro-life, they would have promoted public health measures, rather than prohibiting K-12 schools from mandating facemasks and prohibiting colleges and universities from mandating facemasks and vaccinations.

Ironically borrowing the language of reproductive rights, Huggins says, “Wearing a face mask or receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is a deeply personal decision.” How is THIS a “deeply personal decision” that should be free of government oversight rather than a significant public health concern? Federal health officials are sounding the alarm about the current surge in U.S. coronavirus infections fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant in states with low vaccination rates. On July 16th, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 97 percent of hospitalizations are among those who are unvaccinated, and Dr. Fauci said on July 17th that 99.5 percent of COVID-19 deaths are among people who have not received a shot. DHEC reported that delta variant cases increased fourfold from July 7 to July 14 in South Carolina. Fewer than 45 percent of South Carolina residents are vaccinated.

So how are SC lawmakers’ actions related to this pandemic “pro-life”? People who refuse to take the simple and safe precautionary measures of wearing face masks and getting vaccinated risk not only their own lives, but also allow the deadly virus to spread and mutate and endanger the health of all of us.

At the same time, along with Republican-controlled legislatures in other states, our lawmakers expended efforts to address a few imaginary problems:

  • They have prohibited the teaching of Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools. (For the record, Critical Race Theory is a topic covered in graduate-level law school courses. According to a June 9 article in The State, Critical Race Theory is a process of examining how institutions and public policies — such as zoning, policing, and banking — have created or increased inequality. The idea dates back to the 1970s, per the American Bar Association. Conservative media have turned CRT into the latest battle in the culture wars, in yet another attempt to mislead and divide Americans, and Republicans have taken the bait.)
  • They have declared South Carolina a “Second Amendment Sanctuary State” – protecting us from federal laws that would unconstitutionally seize firearms. No such laws exist or are proposed.
  • In talking about the “critical importance” of “maintaining the integrity of our elections” Mr. Huggins and other Republicans promote the ex-president’s egregious lie about widespread election fraud — despite there being zero evidence of significant irregularities in an election that federal officials declared “the most secure in American history.”

How are these accomplishments? That’s not what I would call them.

Miriam Johnson