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'Pro-Life' Republican's Bill Would Make Getting An Abortion Punishable By Death

South Carolina State Rep. Rob Harris' bill would amend the state's criminal code to count abortion as homicide.

Rob Harris
Rob Harris/Facebook

A new proposal from South Carolina Republican state Representative Rob Harris would amend the state's criminal code to count abortion as homicide.

The bill—called the South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023—would make it so all references to a “person” include a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus at any stage of development.

It states that "persons" would be protected "from the moment of fertilization" though how the law would treat the disposal of eggs or embryos is unclear.

The bill's future is uncertain. Though it currently awaits action in the state’s House Judiciary Committee, South Carolina's Supreme Court has already struck down a state abortion ban on the grounds that a ban violates the state constitution’s right to privacy.

But there is no question of the proposal's draconian nature.

People convicted of murder in South Carolina for having or providing an abortion face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years to life in prison. There are certain circumstances, such as if a child under the age of 11 is murdered, where the minimum sentence range is either life in prison or 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 offers another exception if an abortion 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.”

Harris, a registered nurse who took office in January, avoidedHuffington Post reporters' questions about his stance on imposing the death penalty on people who abort their pregnancies.

He gave the following response in an email to the news outlet:

“My bill does not single out women. It prohibits everyone from committing murder. It provides the same due process that everyone enjoys under our current laws.”
“We say to the unborn, ‘Your life for mine’, most often, out of convenience."

Many have expressed outrage over legislation they say is to be expected from today's GOP, which is anything but "pro-life."

Although the bill garnered 23 co-sponsors in January and February, at least four GOP politicians have decided to withdraw their support though only one answered questions about their decision.

Republican state Rep. Randy Ligon removed his name from a list of the bill's sponsors, tellingThe Huffington Post he "did not understand" that the legislation would punish abortion patients with the death penalty and that he does not back "capital punishment for women that terminate their pregnancy."

The bill has also garnered criticism from Republican Representative Nancy Mace, who questioned why the bill does not provide an exception for rape or incest. Mace criticized the bill last week, saying she finds the debate "deeply disturbing to me as a woman, as a female legislator, as a mom, and as a victim of rape."