Nine South Carolina Republicans who cosponsored one of the toughest anti-abortion bills in the country have since withdrawn their support, backtracking on a measure that proposes to apply the state’s murder laws to people who have abortions.
The legislation, which had a total of 24 co-sponsors — all Republicans — since its introduction in January, it has lost the support of 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 among the first Republicans to support the measure in January, told NBC News that he decided he could not support the existing language of the bill and realized it had no chance of passage.
«In its current form, I can’t keep my name,» Leber said. «I would not want to prosecute or accuse women at all, that has 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 make it to the House floor.
«It was my intention to offer amends. 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 began to receive more national attention. And that’s when other followers began to back off.
Two weeks after adding his name as a sponsor, representative David Vaughan withdrew his endorsement Monday, along with representatives Fawn Pedalino, Brian Lawson, Randy Ligon and Patrick Haddon.
In a text message, Vaughan told NBC News: «I took my name off because I don’t think a woman who aborts should be criminalized. Also…I signed that bill by mistake.”
A day later, Rep. Mark Willis said he would no longer support the bill, and on Thursday, Rep. Brandon Guffey became the latest Republican to remove his name from the list of sponsors of the bill.
in a facebook post Explaining the change, Guffey said, «I’m pro-life, but that includes mother’s life.»
In an interview, Guffey said that while he was hopeful that an abortion bill would pass this session so that South Carolina would no longer serve as an «abortion safe haven state,» he could not support the current version. .
«My point of view is simply that I don’t want abortion to be used as a method of contraception,» Guffey said. «I don’t think a woman should be killed for having an abortion.»
Guffey said she had not realized the bill included language suggesting a person could face the death penalty for having an abortion before signing it.
«I read it, but I didn’t click on the code you linked to indicate that a woman should receive the death penalty,» she said.
The remaining six lawmakers who withdrew their sponsorship — Pedaleno, Landing, Lawson, Ligon, Haddon and Willis — did not respond to requests for comment.
Rep. Jordan Pace criticized the opposition and media reports that he says have «exaggerated the death penalty aspect» of the proposed legislation, arguing that the likelihood of a person being charged and facing the death penalty death was «infinitesimally small».
«That’s such an absurd fallacy,» Pace said in an interview. «Many people making that claim clearly have not read the bill.»
“I think it is entirely appropriate to protect all people, regardless of size, shape or location, equally under the law,” he added. «So if it can be proven that a person killed another person, on purpose, then that is, by definition, homicide, isn’t it?»
He South Carolina Equal Prenatal Protection Act «would ensure that an unborn child who is a victim of homicide receives the same protection under the state’s homicide laws.» The bill identifies a «person» as an «unborn child at each stage of development from fertilization to birth.»
Under South Carolina law, people with murder convictions he may 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 introduced 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 harder to appeal to most americans his supporters, he chastised lawmakers in his state for backing the bill.
“It deeply disturbs me as a woman and as a rape victim that some in my home state want to give rapists more rights than women who have been raped,” Mace 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 until about 20 weeks pregnanthe has repeatedly sought to enact stronger laws banning abortion.
The Fetal Heartbeat and Abortion Protection Act, which prohibited abortion after six weeks with a few exceptions, was signed into law by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster in 2021.
In January, the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down that ban, ruling that it violated the state’s constitutional right to privacy.
Last month, the South Carolina Senate passed an abortion ban which prohibits most abortions after approximately six weeks and states that it does not prohibit contraception.
Also removes a 1974 law criminalizing abortion. That bill it says that a woman who aborts «cannot be criminally prosecuted» for violating its provisions and is not subject to a civil or criminal penalty arising from the abortion.