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Awful South Carolina Bill Would Extend 'Stand Your Ground' to Fetuses

Illustration for article titled Awful South Carolina Bill Would Extend Stand Your Ground to Fetuses

South Carolina lawmakers are the latest to try and solve the Republican party's favorite logic problem ("You would like to take away women's reproductive autonomy without outright saying that you would like to take away women's reproductive autonomy. How many disingenuous appeals to women's safety must you make to camouflage your intent? Show your work!"). This attempt is particularly elaborate and terrible: it involves expanding the state's "Stand Your Ground" defense law to include protection of the unborn. Great.

The bill, called the "Pregnant Women's Protection Act," was approved 3-2 by a Judiciary Subcommittee. It states:

"A pregnant woman is justified in using physical force or deadly physical force against another person to protect her unborn child if, under the circumstances, she has a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to herself or her unborn child."

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By the way, says the bill, "'Unborn child' means the offspring of human beings from conception until birth." Oh, cool, a sneaky lil personhood measure wedged right in there! If the bill passes, then unborn fetuses are designated as people! Smooth, guys. Real smooth.

Obviously, this is no accident: the Pregnant Women's Protection Act is based on model legislation by the anti-choice organization Americans United for Life. And, FUNNILY ENOUGH, the subcommittee also took testimony on a separate personhood bill on the same day — one " that would outlaw all abortions and most contraception by giving legal rights to fertilized eggs," according to the Aiken Standard. (That vote was postponed, for now.)

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Critics of the bill pointed out that it's redundant, seeing as there is already a (horrible and harmful) "Stand Your Ground Law" in place. Yep. It's really just a fairly transparent attempt to legitimize a rabid pro-life agenda: according to University of South Carolina family law professor Marcia Zug, the language of this bill could lead to banning abortions even in cases of rape, incest and threat to the mother's life.

Ironically, the legislation purports to help expectant mothers. Among its justifications: "Violence and abuse are often higher during pregnancy than during any other period in a woman's lifetime" and "Women are more likely to suffer increased abuse as a result of unintended pregnancies." If unintended pregnancies lead to abuse, then how will potentially taking away women's abortion and contraception access do anything to protect them from harm? Making women more likely to face violence, but then telling them its ok to shoot their assailants, isn't "protection." If South Carolina lawmakers really wanted to help women — where more women are killed by men than anywhere else in the nation — they could turn their attention toward funding domestic violence services. This "Protection of Pregnant Women" charade is ridiculous.

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Of course, restricting and endangering women in the name of "life" is something anti-abortion activists do eagerly and frequently.

Image via Getty.

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DISCUSSION

I haven't read all of the comments yet, but doesn't this open up the door to legalizing killing doctors who perform abortions? Like, any pregnant woman could kill a doctor and claim that they had "a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to herself or her unborn child."

I get that the personhood part would outlaw abortion, but even if that was removed, doesn't this give the OK to killing doctors or workers at abortion clinics? This is terrifying.