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Protesters hold signs inside the South Carolina Statehouse...

Protesters hold signs inside the South Carolina Statehouse as lawmakers debate an abortion ban on August 30, 2022. | Source: SOPA Images / Getty

Republican lawmakers in South Carolina are debating whether to change a controversial bill that would make individuals who receive an abortion eligible for the death penalty.

The bill, which has been dubbed the South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023, would “ensure that an unborn child who is a victim of homicide is afforded equal protection under the homicide laws of the state,” according to South Carolina General Assembly website.

The bill would also define a “person” as an “unborn child at every stage of development from fertilization until birth.”

If the eyebrow-raising piece of legislation is passed, those convicted of murder could face the death penalty or a minimum of 30 years in prison.

There are some exceptions for pregnant people and in cases of emergency

The bill will provide exceptions for pregnant people who have to receive an emergency abortion due to “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 website adds.

Sadly, South Carolina’s Equal Protection Act does not provide any exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

With the dismantling of Roe V. Wade last year, proponents of the bill are now bracing themselves for more destruction. Rep. Nancy Mace of the first congressional district blasted Republican lawmakers for proposing the restrictive abortion plan.

“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, according to The Hill. 

Since the fall of Roe, Republican states have been working overtime to place abortion limitations. 18 states have launched near or total bans on the procedure.

As of now, abortion remains constitutional in South Carolina, but Republican lawmakers are determined to change this.

Before the stringent ban went into effect, in 2021 the Food and Drug Administration relaxed some of the tight restrictions placed on one abortion pill called mifepristone, which can end a pregnancy that is less than 10 weeks along. Patients were initially required to pick up the medication at a certified hospital or clinic, but during the pandemic, the Biden Administration changed the protocol, allowing women in abortion-banned states to receive the pill by mail.


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