Nine Republicans withdraw support for South Carolina’s anti-abortion bill

Nine South Carolina Republicans who co-sponsored one of the nation’s most stringent anti-abortion bills have since withdrawn their support and reversed course of a measure that proposes applying the state’s murder laws to people who have abortions.

The legislation, which had a total of 24 co-sponsors — all Republicans — since it was introduced in January, has lost support from nine of them in recent weeks.

Representatives Kathy Landing and Matt Leber were the first to withdraw support in late February.

Leber, who was also one of the first Republicans to support the measure in January, told NBC News that he decided he couldn’t support the bill’s existing language and realized it had no chance of succeeding.

“In its current form, I can’t keep my name on it,” said Leber. “I wouldn’t want to sue or sue women at all. That’s never been my philosophy on pro-life issues.”

The bill has been referred to the State House Judiciary Committee but has not yet been considered. Leber said party leaders made it clear that “the bill was dead on arrival” and would not reach the House of Representatives.

“My intention was to offer amendments. Clean it up,” he said. “I am very clear that the current language of this bill is not what I stand for.”

In March, the bill received more national attention. And then other supporters began to retreat.

Within two weeks of adding his name as a sponsor, Rep. David Vaughan withdrew his support on Monday, along with Reps Fawn Pedalino, Brian Lawson, Randy Ligon and Patrick Haddon.

In a text message, Vaughan told NBC News: “I removed my name because I don’t believe a woman who has an abortion should be criminalized. Also… I signed that bill by mistake.

A day later, Representative Mark Willis said he would no longer support the bill, and on Thursday, Representative Brandon Guffey became the latest Republican to remove his name from the bill’s list of sponsors.

In a Facebook post explaining the shift, Guffey said, “I’m for life, but so is mother’s life.”

In an interview, Guffey said that while he hoped a bill targeting abortion would pass this session so that South Carolina would no longer serve as an “abortion paradise,” he could not support the current version.

“My opinion is simply: I don’t want abortion to be used as contraception,” Guffey said. “I don’t believe a woman should be killed for having an abortion.”

Guffey said he hadn’t realized the bill contained language suggesting that someone could face the death penalty for having an abortion before signing on.

“I read through it, but I didn’t click on the code that said a woman should be sentenced to death,” he said.

The remaining six legislators who withdrew their sponsorships — Pedalino, Landing, Lawson, Ligon, Haddon and Willis — did not respond to requests for comment.

Rep. Jordan Pace denounced opposition and media reports that he said exaggerated “the death penalty aspect” of the proposed legislation, arguing that the chances of a person being charged and receiving the death penalty are “infinitely small”.

“That’s such an absurd misconception,” Pace said in an interview. “A lot of people who make that claim clearly haven’t read the bill.”

“I think it is perfectly appropriate to protect all people equally under the law, regardless of their size, shape or location,” he added. “So if it can be proven that a person killed another person on purpose, then by definition that is murder, isn’t it?”

The South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act would “ensure that an unborn child who is a victim of murder receives equal protection under the state’s homicide laws.” The bill identifies a “person” as an “unborn child at any stage of development, from conception to birth.”

Under South Carolina law, those with murder convictions face the death penalty or a minimum of 30 years in prison.

Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, a Republican, said on Twitter that the bill has “zero chance of passing”.

Rep. Rob Harris, who proposed the legislation, did not respond to a request for comment.

Representative Nancy Mace, RS.C. — who has criticized her party for “showing no compassion” for abortion, which she says has made it more difficult to appeal to the majority of Americans who support her — chastised lawmakers in her state for supporting the bill .

“It is deeply troubling to me as a woman and as a rape victim that some in my home state want to give rapists more rights than raped women,” Mace said. tweeted Thursday. “And I don’t know why I have to say this, but it’s not pro life to execute a woman who wants an abortion after being raped.”

South Carolina, which currently allows most abortions up to about 20 weeks gestation, has repeatedly attempted to enact stricter laws banning abortion.

The Fetal Heartbeat and Abortion Protection Act, which banned abortion after six weeks with few exceptions, was signed into law in 2021 by Governor Henry McMaster, a Republican.

In January, the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down that ban, ruling it violated the state’s constitutional right to privacy.

Last month, the South Carolina Senate passed an abortion ban that bans most abortions after about six weeks and states that it does not ban birth control.

It also removes a 1974 law criminalizing abortion. That bill states that a woman who has an abortion “shall not be subject to criminal prosecution” for violating its provisions and is not subject to any civil or criminal penalty arising from the abortion.

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