South Carolina Legislators Consider Death Penalty For Abortion

South Carolina may impose the sharpest penalty for abortion if some state legislators are able to push through a proposed law.

The legislators are considering the death penalty as a potential punishment for receiving an abortion. Republican legislators introduced the South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023, which would declare a fertilized egg as a person.

The act begins with an acknowledgment of the “sanctity of innocent human life, created in the image of God, which should be equally protected from fertilization to natural death.”

The bill hopes, in part, to afford “equal protection of the laws to all preborn children from the moment of fertilization.”

The bill would treat the death of a fetus as a result of abortion as murder, with the exception of the practice used in cases of “the threat of imminent death of bodily injury.”

The proposal would supersede existing law on the topic, and include enforcement “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.”

A similar, but less strict, version of the law is being considered in the South Carolina state senate.

Previous efforts to restrict abortion through the South Carolina Supreme Court have been rejected by that body. Earlier this year, the court voted 3-2 to reject a six-week abortion ban, which was criticized by Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC).

The recent discussion is the latest in a flurry of news surrounding the practice of abortion. Since the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, each state is now responsible for its own decisions regarding the regulation of the practice.

South Carolina would not be the first state to restrict abortion, but if the current proposal passes the legislature for McMaster’s signature it would be the strictest in the nation.

Since the Dobbs decision, a number of states enacted stricter abortion restrictions. Florida is currently debating a measure to restrict the practice to six weeks, similar to that of its neighbor Georgia.