South Carolina GOP lawmakers propose death penalty for women who have abortions

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Republican lawmakers in South Carolina are considering a change to the state’s criminal code that would make a person who gets an abortion eligible for the death penalty.

The bill being considered in South Carolina, dubbed the South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023, would redefine “person” under state law to include a fertilized egg, giving it at the point of conception equal protection under the state’s homicide laws, including the death penalty.

The bill provides an exception for a pregnant person who underwent an abortion “because she was compelled to do so by the threat of imminent death or great bodily injury.” It also provides an exception if the procedure is needed to avert the death of a mother “when all reasonable alternatives to save the life of the unborn child were attempted or none were available.”

The bill does not provide an exception for rape or incest, a point that Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) took aim at on the House floor last week. Mace has blasted her party for its restrictive abortion policies.

“To see this debate go to the dark places, the dark edges, where it has gone on both sides of the aisle, has been deeply disturbing to me as a woman, as a female legislator, as a mom, and as a victim of rape,” Mace said.

The bill in South Carolina continues a trend of laws in Republican-led states to limit access to abortions and punish it under law after the fall of Roe v. Wade. At least 18 states have imposed near or total abortion bans, according to a New York Times tracker. Eight states have had such bans blocked by courts.

The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that a ban on abortions after six weeks was unconstitutional.

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