AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – A group of lawmakers in South Carolina are discussing a bill that, if passed, could mean that women who have abortions may face the death penalty. It would criminalize abortion and charge women who have one, with murder.

This is another attempt by South Carolina Republicans to pass an abortion ban in the state. So far they have been unable to successfully pass and enact one. In addition to running into legal roadblocks, now it seems as if there is a significant divide among Republicans on the issue..

“It’s another version of this person hood sort of bill. But what it does, is it goes one step further. It’s not just a fetus that’s being defined as a person, or even an embryo, but a fertilized egg,” said Dr. Sarah Young.

Dr. Young is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at USC Aiken. She explained that the South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protections Act of 2023 would assign person hood and all the rights and protections that come with it to a fertilized egg.

“It’s sort of using that same language to say, as a result of that, that fertilized egg would be subject- a termination of that fertilized egg- would be subject to the same thing that a homicide of a born person would be,” she said.

Under the bill, currently in the House Judiciary Committee, women could be convicted of murder by abortion and subject to up to 30 years in prison or even face the death penalty.

Karin Sisk with the League of Women Voters said she is alarmed that this is even being considered.

“To say that women should be punished by death is unbelievable, because of that and because women don’t get pregnant by themselves, and there don’t seem to be any provisions for men in the bill.”

State Representative Rob Harris of Spartanburg, who sponsored the bill, said it’s about defining when life starts and respecting the sanctity of life. However, several Republicans who previously co sponsored the bill have withdrawn their support, saying they don’t want to see women criminalized for having an abortion.

Senate majority leader Shane Massey doesn’t believe the bill will pass.

“It’s just a rogue thing that’s going on over there. It’s not going to have support in the House, I suspect. It certainly wouldn’t have support over here. I mean, there’s no way South Carolina’s going to do that,” he said.

At least 9 Republicans have withdrawn support from the bill so far. The Republican Speaker of the South Carolina House said that the house does not plan to take this bill up and that it would be considered “dead on arrival.”

Photojournalist: Will Baker.