COLUMBIA, SC – 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 new law from coming into force.
The Fetal Heartbeat and Abortion Protection Act in South Carolina is similar to the abortion restriction laws 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 many hearts beating in South Carolina these days,” proclaimed Republican Governor Henry McMaster during a ceremony at the statehouse attended by lawmakers who put the proposal into practice.
Immediately after he signed the invoice, A group of lawmakers and members of the public, standing shoulder to shoulder and wearing masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus, began chanting the words “Praise God” to “Amazing Grace”.
The house passed the bill of a 79-35 vote on Wednesday after hours of emotional speeches from both supporters and opponents and finally gave up the measure on Thursday. Shortly after Thursday’s vote, Planned Parenthood announced it was filing a lawsuit. South Carolina law, like other states currently under appeal, 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 the hopes that the three-judge court, referred to by former Republican President Donald Trump, 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,” she 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”. He was standing near McMaster when the governor signed the bill.
Opponents of abortion pushed for the ban for years, but it got stuck on a procedural hurdle in the Senate. Republicans got three Senate seats in the November election, and the bill was tabbed “Senate Law No. 1” to show that it was the top priority.
“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, just before the governor signed the bill.
Democrats say Republicans wasted tax dollars by passing a bill that everyone knew would be challenged in court. They also argue that there are more important issues that require their attention, such as COVID-19, health care, and education.
“We’re sick of hypocrisy,” said Todd Rutherford, minority chairman of the House of Representatives. Rutherford said the Democrats had enough lawmakers across the aisle too, telling them they didn’t care about life.
“We take care of life until death. We take care of the birth. … We care about people who eat, people who don’t die because they can’t get vaccines, “he said.
The Planned Parenthood and Center for Reproductive Rights 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.
A hearing to see if the law should be suspended during the hearing of the lawsuit is scheduled for Friday afternoon.
Like the Democratic legislature, Black said that focusing on abortion not only wastes money fighting the law, but ignores a number of other important issues as well.
“If lawmakers are really interested in making life better we have a long list of priorities to focus on,” she said.
According to South Carolina law, doctors are required to perform 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 reincest or if the mother’s life is in danger.
The measure does not punish a pregnant woman for an illegal abortion, but the person who performed the abortion could be charged with a crime, sentenced to up to two years, and fined $ 10,000 if found guilty is found.
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