MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A bill currently in the statehouse could make the death penalty a possible punishment for women in South Carolina who undergo an abortion.

If passed, the bill would make getting an abortion equivalent to committing a homicide.

House Bill 3549, also known as the South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023, was introduced to the statehouse last week by Rep. Rob Harris (R-Spartanburg County). It was prefiled in December and sits in the Judiciary Committee.

“What I did the other day is I took the opportunity while the rest of the house was dealing with H. 3774, Human Life Protection Act, a different bill, I put the first amendment on that bill when we were processing it on the floor and I tried to amend it to basically strike the whole thing and replace it with my bill,” Harris said.

The bill aims to amend the South Carolina code of laws by adding sections that would define a person to include an unborn child at any stage of development, and to “ensure that an unborn child who is a victim of homicide is afforded equal protection under the homicide laws of the state.”

Vicki Ringer, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood, criticized the bill.

“That’s a hard pill to swallow for anybody,” Ringer said. “To recognize that you are not valuable. To call this equal protection, it is far from equal. It is giving greater weight to a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus than it is to a human being. You can consider a fetus to be a person, but you can’t consider it to have more weight than the living person who is a life fully lived on this planet.”

The bill would also “ensure that an unborn child who is a victim of assault is afforded equal protection under the assault laws of the state.”

Harris said the goal of the bill is to protect all life, and said that an abortion would warrant the same punishment as murder.

“We have due process laws, as long as they’re followed,” Harris said. “I’m not inventing any new processes. The constitution of both states require due process and equal protection. So if you’re accused of stealing a candy bar, if you’re accused of murdering somebody, it would go through the same process.”

Harris said a woman could testify and there would be an exception if the abortion was due to pressure or the decision of someone else.

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Claire Purnell is a multimedia journalist at News13. Claire is from Louisville, Kentucky. Claire joined the News13 team in January 2023 after graduating from the University of Colorado-Boulder in December 2022. Follow Claire on Twitter and read more of her work here.