More than two years after the controversial shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, the self-defense law that exonerated his killer is still in the news.

This time, South Carolina lawmakers are attempting to expand their stand-your-ground law to give pregnant women the right to use deadly force to protect their unborn children, reports The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.

Critics argue that the bill is unnecessary because the state already has one of the country’s broadest self-defense laws.

But Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, said sometimes these crimes happen when the boyfriend is trying to harm the unborn child and not necessarily the mother.

“I can envision a factual situation where an assault does not rise to the level of great bodily injury, but yet can be effective in killing the unborn child,” Campsen said.

Women’s health advocates have voiced concern about the effect the bill’s language might have on abortion because it recognizes an unborn child from conception, according to an article in The State, a Columbia, S.C., newspaper.

Marcia Zug, a University of South Carolina law professor, said it is unlikely [the] bill … would provide a strong legal basis for banning abortion because it deals with self-defense, not abortion.

“I don’t really think that’s how you’re going to get (abortion banned) … but that’s certainly the purpose,” Zug said.

Pennsylvania’s stand-your-ground law, passed in June 2011, is similar to the Florida legislation that was at the center of the Trayvon Martin case, PublicSource reported in March 2012.

However, a person claiming self-defense in Pennsylvania cannot be doing something illegal themselves; they must have a reasonable belief that death or serious injury is imminent; and the other person must have displayed or used a lethal weapon.

Reach Halle Stockton at 412-315-0263 or

This fact-based local reporting drives impact and creates change. Help power that impact.

James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” PublicSource exists to help the Pittsburgh region face its realities and create opportunities for change. When we shine a light on inequity in our region, like the “completely unacceptable” conditions in low-income housing in McKeesport, things change. When we ask questions about policymakers’ decisions, like how Allegheny County is handling COVID-19 safety for its employees, things change. When we push for transparency on issues that affect the public, like in the use of facial recognition software by Pittsburgh police, things change.

It takes a lot of time, skill and resources to produce journalism like this. Our stories are always made available for free so that they can benefit the most people, regardless of ability to pay. But as an independent, nonprofit newsroom, we count on donations from our readers to support this crucial work. Can you make a contribution of any amount (or better yet, set up a recurring monthly gift) to help ensure we can continue to report on what matters and tell stories for a better Pittsburgh?

Halle has served as managing editor for PublicSource since 2015, leading the newsroom and its editorial strategy. Prior to this role, Halle was a reporter for PublicSource for three years and for the Sarasota...