A South Carolina judge issued a temporary injunction on Friday, effectively halting the implementation of the state’s new abortion law. The law, signed by Governor Henry McMaster, aimed to ban most abortions after the detection of fetal cardiac activity, typically occurring around six weeks into pregnancy.
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The injunction will remain in effect until the state Supreme Court can review the measure. This ruling reverts the state back to the previous law, allowing abortions up to approximately 20 weeks after fertilization.
Lawsuit Filed Immediately After Enactment
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, a South Carolina clinic, and two physicians wasted no time in filing a lawsuit against the ban as soon as it became law. Initially requesting a shorter temporary restraining order, Planned Parenthood now anticipates that the law will ultimately reach the Supreme Court for a final decision. Notably, the state Supreme Court had previously struck down a similar six-week ban, citing its violation of the state’s constitution.
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Planned Parenthood Celebrates the Court’s Decision
Jenny Black, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, expressed relief and gratitude for the court’s injunction in a statement. “Today the court has granted our patients a welcome reprieve from this dangerous abortion ban,” she said. While acknowledging the arduous battle ahead, Black affirmed that they would persist until patients regain the freedom to make choices about their bodies and futures.
Governor McMaster took to Twitter shortly after news of the injunction to reassert his commitment to defending the law. He expressed hope that the Supreme Court would expedite the matter. McMaster believes that protecting the lives of the unborn is paramount and that the law should be given due consideration.
Legislative Process and Added Provisions
The abortion ban passed through the state Senate with a 27-19 vote, with three Republican women siding with Democrats against the bill. Governor McMaster subsequently signed it into law on Thursday. The legislation includes exceptions for fatal fetal anomalies, the life and health of the patient, as well as cases involving rape or incest up to 12 weeks. Violating doctors could face severe penalties, including felony charges carrying up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Republican lawmakers who supported the law argued that they included additional provisions to enhance its chances of surviving legal challenges. Notably, the previous state Supreme Court decision, which overturned a similar six-week ban, was authored by the only female justice on the bench. She retired after the ruling due to reaching the mandatory retirement age, and her replacement, supported by the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, is male.
Awaiting Supreme Court Review
With the temporary injunction in place, South Carolina’s controversial abortion law faces a pending review by the state Supreme Court. The outcome of this review will have significant implications for reproductive rights in the state. Activists and advocates on both sides of the abortion debate continue to closely monitor the situation as it unfolds, aware that the decision could shape the future of abortion legislation in South Carolina and beyond.