Abortion, death penalty divide S.C.candidates

COLUMBIA --- Limiting abortions and approving death sentences point to some of the clearest differences among the Republicans and Democrats competing to become governor.

The GOP candidates, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, state Rep. Nikki Haley and Attorney General Henry McMaster, all say they would sign a bill outlawing abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturns the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the U.S.

Two Democrats, state Superintendent Jim Rex and state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, said they would rather focus on ways to reduce abortions. A third Democrat, state Sen. Robert Ford of Charleston, avoids the question, saying that in matters of law he would approve virtually anything the Legislature passed.

As for the death penalty, the four Republicans and two Democrats said they support it for the worst offenders. Ford said he had never thought about it as an issue and would have to do a lot of praying if he were ever asked to commute a sentence.

Since August 1912, when the state took over the responsibility, more than 280 people have been executed. Since Gov. Mark Sanford took office in 2003, between one and four people yearly have died either through lethal injection or electrocution, according to the state Corrections Department.



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