Court suspends South Carolina’s fetal heartbeat law one day after passage

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South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster holds up a bill banning almost all abortions in the state after he signed it into law on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. On the same day, Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit to stop the measure from going into effect. The state House approved the “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act” on a 79-35 vote Wednesday and gave it a final procedural vote Thursday before sending it to McMaster. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

Planned Parenthood, which receives hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and is easily the nation’s largest abortion provider, got South Carolina’s new law banning most abortions suspended by a federal judge on Feb. 19.

It was the new law’s second day in effect; Gov. Henry McMaster signed in on Feb.18, less than an hour after it was sent to him, but Planned Parenthood sued even before the governor wrote his signature, reports ABC 13.

Last Friday, Judge Mary Geiger Lewis issued a temporary injunction against the law for two-weeks until a new hearing is held on March 9th. Many legal experts predict she will issue a permanent injunction at that time.

More than 75 women are slated to undergo abortions in the state over the next three days, and most of them would be banned under the new law, Planned Parenthood and The Center for Reproductive Rights have said in court papers.

South Carolina’s “Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act” is similar to anti-abortion laws passed by a dozen other states, all of which have been halted and are currently are tied up in court.

Federal law currently allows abortion, and it takes precedence over state law.

The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said in court papers filed Feb. 19 that Planned Parenthood can’t be sure the law will be rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. With three justices appointed by Republican former President Donald Trump, they said, the court could overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision allowing abortions.

The law requires an ultrasound to check for a heartbeat in the fetus before an abortion can be performed. A heartbeat is typically detectable about six weeks after conception. If one is detected, the abortion can be performed only if the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest or the mother’s life is in danger.

 

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