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South Carolina lawmakers propose extending prison sentences up to 25 years for abortion providers and those ‘aid, abet, or conspire’ to help a woman get one

People rally in support of abortion access at the South Carolina State House on Thursday, February 17, 2022.

Joshua Boucher/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

  • South Carolina’s Senate Bill 1373 makes giving an abortion or helping a woman get one, a felony. 
  • The proposed law would make “aiding and abetting” an abortion punishable by 25 years in prison. 
  • The bill makes no exceptions for abortions sought due to fetal abnormality, rape, or incest. 

South Carolina’s Senate Bill 1373, currently making its way through the state legislature, proposes felony criminal charges — and prison sentences up to 25 years — for performing an abortion outside a medical emergency, or helping a woman get one.

“It is unlawful to knowingly or intentionally perform or induce an abortion,” the bill text, sponsored by state senators Richard Cash, Tom Rice, and Daniel Verdin, reads. “A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned for not more than twenty-five years if the unborn child dies as a result of the violation.”

The bill also makes it a felony, punishable by the same penalties, to “knowingly or intentionally aid, abet, or conspire with another person” to perform or receive an abortion. 

Known as the “Equal Protection at Conception – No Exceptions – Act,” the bill makes no exceptions for abortions sought due to fetal abnormality, rape, or incest. 

“As much of a tragedy as this is, we must consider the life of the innocent preborn child as precious as the life of any child,” Rep John McCravy III said of pregnancies caused by rape during a hearing about the bill. “To kill an innocent preborn child will never erase the criminal act. What it will do is turn one tragedy to two tragedies. For this reason, the proposed language in this bill values the lives of innocent preborn children conceived in criminal circumstances the same as lives of all innocent children.” 

The South Carolina proposal comes on the heels of a similar North Carolina law, HB 158, receiving fresh attention. The North Carolina bill, which is unlikely to become law, would authorize the deadly use of force against abortion providers and patients in order to prevent an abortion.

“While we do not expect a bill like this to pass in North Carolina, this violent rhetoric by state political leaders perpetuates a chilling climate and encourages vigilantes to target and harass abortion providers,” read a statement on the North Carolina bill from Alison Kiser, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic.

“Anti-abortion activists have routinely threatened and harrassed doctors and patients with little or no accountability for decades. The bottom line is that nobody should have to face intimidation or violence in order to get or provide health care.” 

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