IN South Carolina, Republican lawmakers are considering an amendment to the state’s criminal code that would punish a person who obtains an abortion with capital punishment.

The bill, called the South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023, would amend state law and redefine “person” to include a fertilized egg at conception, giving that zygote “equal protection under the state’s homicide laws” — even the death penalty.

Representative Rob Harris wrote the bill and so far it has attracted 21 co-sponsors to date.

However, the bill provides an exemption for pregnant women who had an abortion “because she was compelled to do so by threat of imminent death or great bodily harm.”

It also provides an exception if the procedure is needed to prevent a mother from dying “when all reasonable options to save the unborn child’s life were attempted or none were available”.

Abortion is currently legal in South Carolina up to 21 weeks and 6 days; a 2021 ban banning abortion after six weeks was struck down by the state Supreme Court in January.

In addition, have proposed bill does not provide an exception for rape or incest. Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina said on the House floor last week that “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 mother and as a rape victim”.

She continued: “I was raped as a teenager at the age of 16. This debate should be a bipartisan debate where we balance women’s rights and we balance the right to life. But we’re not having that conversation here in DC. We’re not having that conversation at home. We not having that conversation with other state legislators.”