Rights for the Unborn?

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Columbia, S.C.: South Carolina hasn't been much of a trendsetter on legal or social issues, but it may have started down the path to banning abortion all by itself. In the most aggressive move by any state to grant rights to fetuses, the state's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a mother can be prosecuted for child abuse if she takes drugs during pregnancy. South Carolina's Attorney General Charlie Condon called the ruling a "landmark decision for protecting children" and said he would charge prosecutors and social workers with enforcing the new law. While the ruling is unlikely to have a national effect because South Carolina has not been a bellwether in such court battles, TIME's Adam Cohen reports, it could easily be applied to the nation's most volatile issue. "If the state is going to rule that the fetus's rights take precedence over a mother's right to control her body, then the same argument could be used to ban abortion." Opponents of the ruling contend that the law will discourage women from seeking regular checkups during pregnancy.