South Carolina Republicans withdraw support from abortion bill that could result in death penalty for women.
The South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023 proposed by Rep. Rob Harris seeks to classify abortion as homicide and offer the same prosecution to women who undergo them as to convicted murderers.
The bill does not include exceptions for rape or incest. The legislation was quietly gathering support in the House Legislature until pro-choice activists and media brought it to attention.
Some Republicans who initially supported the bill rescinded their sponsorship, admitting they were not aware of its extremity, including the part that could impose capital punishment on women.
Sixteen Republicans still support the bill, and Governor McMaster has not yet expressed an opinion on the bill.
The bill contains the most extreme proposal for how to punish women who seek abortion in a post Roe v. Wade America. In Texas, doctors who perform abortions face life imprisonment or fines of up to $100,000.
Rep. Rob Harris proposed the bill, stating that South Carolina has become a ‘destination for abortion’ and that the bill would protect all life by defining it at conception.
The bill’s language does not explicitly state that women should receive capital punishment, but says that enforcement is subject to the same presumptions, defenses, justifications, laws of parties, immunities, and clemencies as would apply to the homicide of a person who had been born alive.
Although the bill does not include a clear punishment, a judge or jury would have to hand down the sentence if a woman is prosecuted, and it is unclear whether prosecutors would pursue such strong charges in reality if the bill were to pass.