Judge Temporarily Blocks South Carolina’s 6-Week Abortion Restriction

A rally at the last Planned Parenthood in Missouri. Credit: Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images
Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

A judge on Friday temporarily blocked South Carolina’s six-week abortion restriction until the state Supreme Court reviews the law. 

South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman granted a temporary restraining order against the restriction in a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, the Greenville Women’s Clinic, and two physicians. Newman issued the order just one day after Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed The Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion ActS. 474, into law. 

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster greets lawmakers ahead of his State of the State address on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)

The injunction means abortion will be legal once again in South Carolina for up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. Jenny Black, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, celebrated the order, calling it a “welcome reprieve.” 

“Today the court has granted our patients a welcome reprieve from this dangerous abortion ban,” Black said in a statement on Friday. “Our doors remain open, and we are here to provide compassionate and judgment-free health care to all South Carolinians. 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.”

The abortion giant affiliate is arguing in its lawsuit that the pro-life law violates South Carolinian’s constitutional right to privacy, equal protection, and substantive due process. Following the order, Gov. McMaster issued a statement via Twitter announcing he had filed an emergency motion requesting the state Supreme Court quickly resolve the issue. 

“We will continue fighting to protect the lives of the unborn in South Carolina and the constitutional law that protects them. I hope that the Supreme Court will take this matter up without delay,” McMaster wrote:

“Moments ago, before 5pm, we filed an emergency motion requesting the S.C. Supreme Court to resolve this issue quickly. The life of every South Carolinian – born or unborn – is precious and it’s His gift to us,” he added in an update. 

The Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act was written to protect unborn babies by limiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, with exceptions for rape or incest during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, medical emergencies, or fatal fetal anomalies. Doctors in the state who do not comply with the law could face felony charges punishable by two years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

McMaster signed a similar bill into law in 2021; however, that law was challenged and permanently enjoined by the South Carolina Supreme Court in early 2023. The sponsors of the current legislation crafted the measure in the hopes of withstanding a legal challenge and satisfying the state Supreme Court justices.

The case is Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. State of South Carolina, No. 2021-CP-40-2745, in the Supreme Court of South Carolina. 

FLASHBACK: Penny Nance: Planned Parenthood Couldn’t Care Less About Women After Getting Their Abortion Money

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