Archive for March 2003

Paula Zahn Transcript

March 29, 2003

ZAHN: Thank you. Are you, through this bill, trying to scare women away from having abortions?

BRYANT: No, we’re not trying to scare women about having an abortion, but we just want to show her all the facts, show her how the baby is developed in the womb with 10 fingers and 10 toes. And when she makes this decision — and this doesn’t do anything with that choice, but it does add information and makes the choice more informed. And that’s the goal of the legislation.

ZAHN: But you do feel that looking at this ultrasound makes a difference. And I know some people dispute the statistics that you have used to try to get this bill through, but you think the more women who look at these ultrasounds, the more they’ll be discouraged to go through with an abortion.

BRYANT: Well, we feel that the right choice is to carry the child. That’s our opinion. And we’ve seen 80, 85 percent of women who do view an ultrasound of the baby in their womb do, most of the time, indeed, decide to carry that child and deliver the child. So, we believe that it adds honor, adds respect to the life in the womb.

ZAHN: Senator, I want to put up on the screen now something that a well-known bioethicist said about this proposed law. “We don’t require people who are undergoing any surgical procedure to view models of what their heart looks like or what their stomach looks like before they’re operated on.”

So his question, essentially, is why should abortion be any different?

BRYANT: Well, this isn’t a heart or it’s not a lung. This is another living human being that has rights and should be honored. So, I believe that it’s a different situation here, because we’re dealing with a baby.

These ultrasounds show a beating heart with four chambers. It shows a developed spinal cord where you can see different vertebrae. It’s way more developed than one would imagine. It’s certainly not a blob of tissue or another organ of the body.

ZAHN: Planned Parenthood, as you know, is also opposed to this bill. And I also want to share that criticism with you tonight.

BRYANT: Yes.

ZAHN: They write, “Women are intelligent and thoughtful human beings who would not go forward if they did not think this was in their best interest. This bill is nothing more than politically driven. It’s unnecessary and an attempt to restrict abortion by scaring and intimidating women.”

Are you trying to suggest that women can’t make informed decisions without looking at this ultrasound?

BRYANT: I believe that the decision would definitely be informed if they do see this ultrasound, and I do believe there are some involved in this debate that simply are disappointed when someone chooses to carry the child. That’s what it appears, anyway.

ZAHN: What really upsets people, though, is why some people think it’s OK to even insist that women who have been raped by a family member or by a stranger should also be subjected to looking at this ultrasound. Is that fair?

BRYANT: Well, that is — well, that’s — that was proposed in the House. And that amendment was tabled. I believe it will probably be proposed again in the Senate, even though I won’t support that amendment.

It would still be — the bill would still be something I could support if that’s in there. And, you know, we’ll just have to take it when it comes.

But the thing is, we still have a life, regardless of circumstances, a developed baby. And I believe that baby should be part of that decision process that the patient undergoes.
ZAHN: Senator Kevin Bryant, got to leave it there. Thanks for coming in tonight.

BRYANT: OK. Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: Our pleasure.

As the Senate takes up H. 3355 next week. Your thoughts, questions, & comments are certainly welcome.

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Grooms, Continued

March 28, 2003

The report runs nearly 100 pages and reveals a lack of internal controls, unclear and unwritten policy, suspicious accounting activity and questionable compliance with federal law. One of the most disturbing findings was testimony that revealed that because the Transportation Department has misspent and mismanaged, the department may not be able to meet its payroll by this summer.

Our current commissioner-director model of management means the director is accountable only to a combined majority of parochial commissioners. These commissioners in turn have generally cared more about scoring road projects for their district than they have about responsibly overseeing a crucial state agency. At its best, our system has functioned piecemeal; at its worst, it has materialized in a patchwork system of roads built because of political pressure rather than public need.

To be sure, this existing management system is a creature of the Legislature. It is our responsibility to fix it, and the time for reform is now.

My Transportation subcommittee, which has been meeting since November, developed legislation that brings meaningful, commonsense reform to the way we plan and build roads. Our reform proposal creates a system of checks and balances, separating the planning of roads and the building and maintaining of roads. The new Board of Transportation would better represent a cross-section of the state, ensuring adequate representation from rural and urban areas as well as from other areas based on maintenance needs. The new board would prioritize projects and would approve the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan and mass transit plan. Importantly, our reform plan would require the board to approve financial planning for large projects, its members would have to discharge duties in good faith with due care, and they would be barred from entering into conflict-of-interest transactions. The plan establishes measurable criteria and a system of ranking to ensure our roads are built where they are needed most.

Finally, the reform package provides that the governor would appoint a new transportation secretary. The secretary would be accountable to the governor, and the governor is answerable to the people of South Carolina.

Unfortunately, the road to true reform took a U-turn in the Senate on Thursday when our sensible legislation was shoved aside in favor of a flawed proposal that would actually make the department less accountable and needlessly inject more politics into the road building process. This flawed proposal would further politicize our already-polarized decision-making process by placing more day-to-day control in the hands of Columbia politicians, rather than those who know how to build and maintain roads.

I am convinced that many of my Senate colleagues are unaware of just how ill-conceived this flawed proposal may be. The Transportation Department’s root problem is the parochial nature of the commission system, which pits one commissioner against another at the expense of sound public policy.

Our current system is dysfunctional. I know it; other legislators know it; you know it. And still, somehow, there is resistance. Despite the overwhelmingly favorable vote to pass the real reform proposal out of the Transportation Committee and on to the floor, the boys of the good ol’ boy system are pushing back.

As floor debate began last week, it was learned that a new Transportation Commission member has been seated on the existing commission. This despite the fact that his “election” was held without the knowledge of all the legislators legally entitled to cast a vote on behalf of their constituents. Worse still, this vote apparently was held without public notice, again in violation of state law. It now appears other members of the existing Transportation Commission were seated in similar fashion.

The time for reform is now. Millions of dollars have been wasted, accountability is out the window, and our roads continue to crumble. Call your legislators and urge them to act. Tell them they should support real reform. Tell them to support the original reform proposal that makes DOT work for you instead of the politicians.