COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – The governor of South Carolina signed law Thursday banning most abortions. This has been one of his top priorities since he took office more than four years ago. Planned parenting was sued immediately, effectively preventing the measure from taking effect.
The “Fetal Heartbeat and Abortion Protection Act in South Carolina” is similar to the laws that restrict abortion previously passed by a dozen states. All are tied up in court. Federal law, which takes precedence over state law, currently allows abortion.
“There are a lot of happy hearts beating in South Carolina right now,” McMaster said during a signing ceremony at the Statehouse attended by lawmakers helping to make the bill a reality.
The House passed its bill on Wednesday after hours of emotional testimony from supporters and opponents with 79 to 35 votes and gave the measure final approval on Thursday. Shortly after Thursday’s second vote, Planned Parenthood announced that a lawsuit would be filed. The South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, like other similar laws currently being challenged, is “manifestly unconstitutional,” said Jenny Black, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.
Proponents of restrictive abortion laws are trying to bring the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes that the court will settle with three Judges Roe v. Wade could overturn the 1973 decision in support of abortion rights. The Supreme Court previously ruled that abortion is legal until a fetus is viable outside the womb – months after a heartbeat can be detected, Black noted.
State laws restricting or banning abortion “are just absurd,” Black said. “There’s no other way to get around it.”
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson issued a statement Thursday that his office will “vigorously defend this law in court because there is nothing more important than protecting life”.
Legislators who backed the law celebrated their long-awaited victory on Thursday.
“We’re about to do what I’ve been trying for 25 years: shut down the abortion industry in South Carolina,” said Republican Senator Larry Grooms.
The Planned Parenthood lawsuit argues that the new South Carolina law “is in blatant violation of nearly five decades of Supreme Court precedent.” The suit states that a high rate of women, especially African Americans, die during or immediately after giving birth in South Carolina. The abortion ban would hit low-income women hardest, who could not travel to a nearby state where abortion is still allowed, the lawsuit said.
Black said the focus on abortion wasted taxpayer dollars and ignored a number of other important issues such as health care, inequality between women and education, Black said.
“If lawmakers are really interested in making life better, we have a long list of priorities to focus on,” Black said.
According to the South Carolina bill, doctors must do ultrasound scans to check for a heartbeat on the fetus. If one is discovered, the only way to have the abortion is if the pregnancy was caused by rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger.
The measure would not punish a pregnant woman for an illegal abortion, but the person who performed the abortion could be charged with a felony, sentenced to up to two years, and fined $ 10,000 for being for found guilty.