Judge temporarily halts near-ban on S.C. abortions

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 2:57 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A federal judge has temporarily stopped South Carolina’s new abortion ban from taking effect.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic requested a temporary restraining order on the Fetal Heartbeat Bill that Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law on Thursday. It has also filed suit against the state over the new law, claiming it is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Mary Geiger Lewis issued the temporary restraining order (TRO) Friday afternoon, meaning the abortion ban cannot take effect for 14 days.

After 14 days, Planned Parenthood will ask for the TRO to be extended, which is likely.

“Today, abortion remains safe and legal in South Carolina, and politicians’ plan to restrict access to health care has failed,” Jenny Black, president and CEO at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said. “Gov. McMaster: South Carolinians need a COVID-19 plan, not an abortion ban. Our patients deserve more from their elected leaders. As a leading provider of reproductive health care in the state, including abortion, our doors are open to the South Carolinians who depend on us every day. We will never stop fighting on behalf of our patients.”

The abortion ban would make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which supporters of the law say is about six to eight weeks after conception. It does include exceptions including in cases of rape, incest, fetal anomalies, or if the mother’s life is in danger.

If a health care provider performs an abortion outside of these situations, the doctor could face a felony charge, up to two years in jail, and or a $10,000 fine if the law goes into effect.

The ban would also require doctors to give a patient’s contact information to local law enforcement officials if they perform an abortion on a woman who says they were a victim of rape or incest.

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