May 11, 2023

Correcting the Record on SFLAction’s Spine Awards in South Carolina

Not a gift, but the award for bad behavior that no pro-life legislator should ever want to receive – model spines indicating they don’t have a backbone – recently went viral after key Republicans in South Carolina took insult upon being presented with their awards. Here’s what happened: 

As photographed and covered by many national news outlets, Students for Life Action (SFLAction) distributed plastic models of spines to “pro-life” leaders in the Palmetto state who voted repeatedly against life-saving legislation such as Life at Conception Act and Heartbeat Abortion Prevention bills.  

But not every outlet got it right. 

This week, The New York Times claimed the model spines were “gifts” in an article. SFLAction Vice President of Media & Policy Kristi Hamrick responded to the publication clarifying, “The awards – not gifts – were a whimsical reminder that the recipients had “distinguished” themselves in undermining support for the preborn and their mothers. In South Carolina, those awards went to three Republican women who were willing to sacrifice infant girls for a political agenda usually preached by their political adversaries and included our pledge that SFLAction will be out in force against them in coming primaries.” 

In a new op-ed by SFLAction Online Editor & Staff Writer Dana Stancavage published at The Standard, she further explains:  

“When returning to the legislative session this Spring, SFLAction warned elected officials that it was time to get it right and pass life-saving legislation in the face of South Carolina’s rising abortion statistics given the state’s 20-week limit.  

“But SFLAction’s political strategy is anything but safe. Afterall, we have to react in a gritty and rapid way to combat lies from the abortion lobby that garners all too much media attention.  

“Heading into the 2023 legislative session, SFLAction created a targeted list of South Carolina Senate Republicans who needed to be reminded that they should vote with a backbone. Since then, our grassroots team began delivering plastic models of spines to Senators who previously killed the Life at Conception Act.   

“When faced with accountability from their voters as the Human Life Protection Act again passed the House and made way to the Senate, spines in hand, we saw half a dozen of Members flabbergasted that their pro-life constituents expected them to vote to save future South Carolinians.”   

In the article, Stancavage points out the multitude of ways SFLAction used its grassroot network to lobby in support of life-saving laws and how it wasn’t until much later that the heat was turned up with delivery of “spine awards” meant to call out the inability for self-proclaimed pro-lifers to vote with a backbone for the preborn.  

She addresses leaders who claimed the spines determined their votes while records show that they were never going to protect life in law and service. 

“SFLAction is planning for a long road ahead as the same Republicans who mocked our lobbying efforts will likely look for the endorsement of the largest voting bloc –– Gen Z and Millennials –– who make up SFLAction’s 50 state 1,400 college campus base come election season.  

“While primary engagement will be at the top of SFLAction’s plans in response to votes in South Carolina and Nebraska, we’re looking at continuing our education and outreach over the summer and calling out the bad votes of “pro-lifers,” wrote Stancavage.   

With a few short days until South Carolina’s legislative session comes to a close, make sure to check back on the SFLAction blog for the latest updates and ways to get involved this summer! SFLAction might be coming to a primary near you (especially if you live in South Carolina).