COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) — The South Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked South Carolina legislation that would prohibit most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Senate Bill 1 was introduced on June 28 and sought to amend South Carolina abortion law to include the following:
“To provide that abortions are illegal in South Carolina, to provide that physicians who perform a medical procedure or medical treatment designed to save the life of the mother that accidentally or unintentionally results in the death of the unborn child must document the circumstances surrounding the medical treatment or medical procedure and to provide what documentation must be maintained; to provide that it is unlawful to aid, abet, or conspire with someone to procure an abortion; to provide that it is unlawful to manufacture, possess for sale or distribution, distribute, offer for sale, sell, or advertise the sale or distribution of an abortifacient; to provide that it is unlawful to knowingly or intentionally to recruit, harbor, or transport a pregnant minor who resides in this state to another state to procure an abortion or to obtain an abortifacient; to provide that it is unlawful to coerce a pregnant woman to have an abortion; to provide that nothing in the article may be construed to subject a pregnant woman to a criminal penalty or civil liability for any violation of this article; to provide that the attorney general has the concurrent authority to prosecute a person for a criminal violation of this article with the several solicitors of the state, within their respective circuits; to provide that the board of medical examiners must revoke the license of a physician who performs an abortion in violation of this article; to provide for civil actions, including wrongful death claims, arising from violations of this article; and to provide for criminal enterprise liability.”
The legislation was related to the Fetal Heartbeat Law, which went into effect July 27 after the United States Supreme Court overturned the landmark abortion rights legislation, Roe v Wade. The Fetal Heartbeat Law had previously been blocked by federal courts as litigation over its constitutionality played out.
A lawsuit was brought by the only abortion providers in the state, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Greenville Women’s Clinic, arguing that the ban violates the constitutional rights and equal protections of those seeking an abortion “by banning abortion, by providing inadequate protections for patients’ health, and by conditioning sexual assault survivors’ access to abortion on the disclosure of their personal information to law enforcement.”
Since state trial courts refused to prosecute the case, jurisdiction was transferred to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
As that litigation proceeds, the South Carolina Supreme Court unanimously granted an emergency temporary injunction, which enables abortion providers to continue providing the service.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said that while the ruling was disappointing, “it’s important to point out that this is a temporary injunction. The court didn’t rule on the constitutionality of the Fetal Heartbeat law.” The statement went on to say that the AG’s office “will continue to defend the law.”
A spokesperson for Gov. Henry McMaster (R) provided the following statement:
“We always knew that we would need to fight to defend the Fetal Heartbeat Act. We successfully did so in the federal court system and we’re confident that we will prevail in state court.“
McMaster’s opponent in the upcoming gubernatorial race, Joe Cunningham, praised the decision, saying in part: “
“The South Carolina Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to block the six-week abortion ban is great news for the people of South Carolina. This blatant government invasion of privacy should have never become law and I am relieved to see the Court put it on hold. This draconian law is not based in science and strips women of their fundamental freedoms. This law is bad for South Carolina families, doctors, and businesses.”
Editor’s note: This story is breaking and will be updated.