COLUMBIA, SC (WSAV) – South Carolina lawmakers are debating a bill that would change the criminal code in the state and could lead to someone who gets an abortion the death penalty.

“Wilful prenatal homicide” are some of the first words used in the “South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023.”

The bill introduced by Spartanburg Representative Rob Harris, and sponsored by 15 other house members, brings heavy charges for anyone who wants to end a pregnancy. These charges could go as far as the death penalty for a doctor or a mother.

“Can we get past some of these? Let’s call them archaic ideas.”

“Barbaric. They are barbaric ideas,” said Rep. Nancy Mace. “Let’s go further than that, these are barbaric ideas.”

Congresswoman Nancy Mace calls House bill 3549 “disheartening”. Especially the fact that the bill offers no exception for rape or incest.

“It’s shocking quite frankly, This is not where South Carolinians are. I am pro-life and I am speaking on behalf of people who are pro-life It’s wrong and especially to treat women, women who have been victims of rape.”

“You are going to put women to death who have an abortion, women who are victims of rape and have an abortion what are you talking about, and it’s a stain on the state quite frankly right now,” says Mace.

The bill describes a “person” as an unborn child at any stage of development from fertilization until birth.

Enforcement is the same as would apply to a “homicide” of a person who had been born alive, and describes the unborn child as a “victim of an assault”.

The only exception in the proposed bill is the threat of “imminent death of great bodily injury to the mother.”

“I am deeply concerned about the direction we are going,” says Mace. “What’s next are you going to try and ban women from traveling out of state?”

“You are giving more power and more freedom to a rapist than to a woman who is being raped. That is the message that those legislators are sending.”

Legislators who already approved a six-week abortion ban last year. A ban that was later struck down by the courts.

State Senator Tom Davis says a compromise bill between all sides “is” possible if Republicans and Democrats can see the big picture.

“Unfortunately you have too many on my side of the aisle who only recognize one right which is the right of the state to ensure the birth of an unborn child,” said Senator Davis. “And to some of my friends on the left, quite frankly, they are focused only on a woman’s right to her own body without acknowledging along that 9-month continuum society expects that baby to be protected.”

Senator Davis says this bill in its current form has “no chance” of passing. But it is still available and up for debate.

None of our local State Representatives I reached out to would comment on this issue.

Representative Mace is trying a different tact, introducing a nationwide bill making over-the-counter contraception more available to all women.

The “Greater Access to Contraceptive Options Act,” urges the FDA to give priority review for applications of self-administered contraceptives that can be used over-the-counter.

The bill would also waive any fees applicants may have to pay to have their application considered, removing the red tape getting in the way of making more contraceptive options available to women everywhere. For example, self-administered contraceptives include birth control pills, patches, vaginal rings, and injections or shots.

This could be key, she says, for under-served or poor counties which don’t have an OBGYN, like many spots in South Carolina.

“If you are going to ban abortion post Roe… With Roe being overturned then you have to allow women to have access to birth control,” said Mace. “We have entire counties in SC, largely rural and poorer areas without a single OBGYN doctor. What are those women supposed to do if they could afford to go see a doctor?”