South Carolina Enacts Heartbeat Abortion Law

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed a significant overhaul of his state’s abortion laws, banning the practice after the fetus’ heartbeat is detected. However, the state faces a legal challenge from Planned Parenthood, echoing successful previous litigation.

The new law, the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act cleared the state legislature to the governor’s signature. It immediately went into force prior to the lawsuit’s filing.

McMaster praised the new law, stating that it was a “great day for life in South Carolina, but the fight is not over. We stand ready to defend this legislation against any challenges and are confident we will succeed.” 

“The right to life must be preserved, and we will do everything we can to protect it,” he said.

This is not the first recent effort to restrain abortion in the state. An earlier six-week ban was struck down by the South Carolina Supreme Court in January 2023.

The high court argued that the ban violated the right to privacy, which is explicitly included in the state’s constitution. 

The court’s majority opinion read that “this right is not absolute, and must be balanced against the State’s interests in protecting unborn life.” 

The decision stated that the six-week period was “not a reasonable period of time” for women to know they are pregnant “and to take reasonable steps to terminate that pregnancy.”

The passage of the law was met with a swift legal challenge from Planned Parenthood. 

The group and its allies filed a suit against the new law within one hour of the governor’s signature.

The law was temporarily blocked by a state judge pending further review.

Planned Parenthood’s regional president said that the decision “of if, when and how to have a child is deeply personal, and politicians making that decision for anyone else is government overreach of the highest order.”

South Carolina’s new law allows for a number of exceptions, including in cases of rape, incest or the health of the baby or mother.

The lawsuit claims that the fetal heartbeat bill is “nearly identical” to the law the state’s supreme court struck down earlier this year.