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US state legislators propose death penalty for women who have an abortion

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 20 March 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p658

Linked Opinion

Punishable by death—how the US anti-abortion movement ended up proposing the death penalty

  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. New York

Republican legislators in South Carolina have proposed a bill to change the state’s laws, making a fertilised egg or embryo a person and charging a woman who has an abortion with murder, which carries a 30 year prison sentence or the death penalty.1 Henry McMaster, the state’s Republican governor, has said that he would sign anti-abortion regulations.

Laws restricting or banning abortion have become frequent since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade on 24 June 2022 and sent the issue back to the states.2 Abortion is currently banned in 13 states and prohibited after six weeks’ gestation in Georgia. Some of these states have exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.3 Abortion bans are blocked in the courts in eight states. Abortion is legal in 26 states and the District of Columbia (Washington, DC).3

The South Carolina bill was proposed by state representative Robert Harris, introduced in the South Carolina House of Representatives on 10 January 2023, and …

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