South Carolina abortion law: State judge temporarily blocks 6-week ban


A South Carolina judge has temporarily blocked the state’s new abortion restrictions from taking effect, just a day after Governor Henry McMaster signed them into law.

The law, which limited most abortions as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, was signed by McMaster, a Republican, on Thursday and took effect immediately. Moments later, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, along with the Greenville Women’s Clinic and two complainant physicians, filed a lawsuit in state court to try to stop him.

Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman made the decision Friday in Richland County, South Carolina, to suspend the new law until the state Supreme Court can review the case to determine whether it violates the state constitution.

For now, abortions in the state remain legal for up to about 20 weeks until the Supreme Court issues a ruling or takes other action to allow enforcement.

“Today the court has given our patients a welcome reprieve from this dangerous abortion ban,” said Jenny Black, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. “Our doors remain open and we are here to provide compassionate, non-judgmental healthcare to all South Carolinas. Although we have a long fight to fight, we will not stop until our patients are once again free to make their own decisions about their bodies and their futures.

McMaster said he was eagerly awaiting the state Supreme Court to hear the case, and state attorney general Alan Wilson, a Republican, said his office was “considering all of our options” in response.

“We have defended the right to life in court before, and we are ready to do so again,” Wilson said.

According to McMaster, South Carolina has filed a motion asking the state Supreme Court to take prompt action in the case. In the emergency motion, the state wrote that “the Court should grant the motion or, alternatively, expedite the charge in this appeal or transfer the matter to the Court’s original docket of jurisdiction.”

In the filing, the state asked the Supreme Court to stay Newman’s order and allow the new restrictions to take effect while the appeal is heard.

South Carolina passed a similar six-week abortion ban in 2021, but the state Supreme Court overturned it earlier this year, finding that the state’s constitution’s privacy protections States require women to have sufficient time to determine they are pregnant and to terminate a pregnancy.

The Republican sponsors of the new legislation said they believe the language changes in the new legislation address the Supreme Court’s concerns about the previous law.

The author of the January decision, Judge Kaye Hearn, was at the time the only woman to sit on the state high court. She has since retired. There are currently no women on the South Carolina State Supreme Court bench.

Senate Bill 474, known as the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, bans most abortions after early heart activity can be detected in a fetus or embryo, usually as early as week six. pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. Any doctor who knowingly breaks the law will have their license to practice in the state revoked by the State Board of Medical Examiners and could face felony charges, fines and jail time.

The law includes exceptions for saving the life of the patient and for fatal fetal anomalies, as well as exceptions limited to up to 12 weeks for victims of rape and incest, with physician reporting requirements to law enforcement. local order. It also contains an amendment added by the House that would require a “biological father” to pay child support from the time of conception.

This story has been updated with additional developments.


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