Judge temporarily blocks new South Carolina abortion ban
A South Carolina judge Friday temporarily blocked the state’s new law that would ban most abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy.
The injunction will remain in effect until the state Supreme Court can review the measure.
The ruling comes just one day after the law took effect following Gov. Henry McMaster’s (R) signature. The decision means the state will revert back to the previous law, which allows abortion up to about 20 weeks after fertilization.
The lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, a South Carolina clinic and two physicians almost immediately after the ban became law.
A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman said they initially requested a shorter temporary restraining order, but the judge indicated that the law is going to wind up in front of the Supreme Court.
The state Supreme Court earlier this year struck down a similar six-week ban, arguing that it violated the state’s constitution.
“Today the court has granted our patients a welcome reprieve from this dangerous abortion ban,” Jenny Black, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said in a statement.
The organization operates two of the state’s three abortion clinics.
“While we have a long fight ahead, we will not stop until our patients are again free to make their own decisions about their bodies and futures,” she said.
Shortly after news of the injunction, McMaster said on Twitter the state will continue to fight for the law “to protect the lives of the unborn. I hope that the Supreme Court will take this matter up without delay.”
The legislation passed the state Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 27-19; three Republican women joined all Democrats in voting against it. McMaster signed it into law Thursday.
The bill includes exceptions for fatal fetal anomalies, the patient’s life and health, and for victims of rape or incest up to 12 weeks.
Any doctor found in violation could face felony charges carrying up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Republicans in the legislature said they added new provisions to this version of the law so it would survive legal challenges.
In addition, January’s 3-2 state Supreme Court decision to overturn the previous six-week ban was written by the court’s only female justice, who retired shortly after the ruling when she reached mandatory retirement age. The legislature replaced her with a man, who has the support of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus.
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