Tuesday, 27 Feb 2024

Death penalty proposed for women who get abortions in South Carolina

Abortion could be an offence that warrants the death penalty under proposals being considered by lawmakers in South Carolina.

Some 21 members of the South Carolina State House co-sponsored an act calling for the legal change.

They want a ‘person’ to be legally defined as a fertilised egg at the point of conception, according to the bill introduced on January 10.

The group argues this would ‘ensure that an unborn child who is a victim of homicide is afforded equal protection under the homicide laws of the state’.

People convicted of murder can be handed the death sentence or a minimum of 30 years behind bars.

The legislation would include some exceptions, including a woman being ‘compelled to have an abortion by the threat of imminent death or great bodily injury’

An exemption would also apply to a woman who has had a life-saving procedure resulting ‘in the accidental or unintentional injury or death of her unborn child when all reasonable alternatives to save the life of the unborn child were attempted or none were available’.

Representative Rob Harris authored the legislation calling for an amendment to the state’s Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023.

When the Republican, a registered nurse, came into office last December he said: ‘We’re going to change some things, so people better buckle up.’

He is a passionate anti-abortion activist, saying he ‘stands unequivocally for life at conception’.

The dad-of-10 owns a business called Keepers at Home Boutique – believed to be a reference to a Bible verse telling women to ‘love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands’.

He is a member of the South Carolina Freedom Caucus, which has described itself as a group of the most conservative representatives in the state.

When asked about being in favour of such ‘harsh’ consequences, he replied: ‘Murder of the pre-born is harsh.’

Fellow Republican representative Nancy Mace said the bill was part of a ‘deeply disturbing’ trend of lawmakers considering death for women who get abortions.

She told the house on Friday: ‘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. I was raped as a teenager at the age of 16.’

Roe v. Wade was historically overturned last June but Republicans have struggled to agree on new abortion restrictions since.

Some believe it should be illegal altogether, while others want the procedure banned after six weeks.

Currently, a woman in South Carolina can get an abortion while up to 21 weeks and six days pregnant.

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