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Judge grants injunction, allows abortions to resume in South Carolina

A six-week abortion ban was signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday.

May 26, 2023, 12:20 PM

A South Carolina judge has granted abortion providers' request to block a newly enacted six-week abortion ban while a legal challenge proceeds, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic confirmed to ABC News.

Planned Parenthood, one of the providers involved in the lawsuit, celebrated the decision on Twitter.

The ban was signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday after passing in the state Senate earlier this week.

The new ban prohibits all abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which generally occurs at six weeks of pregnancy, with limited exceptions. Anyone who violates the ban is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined $10,000, face prison time of up to two years or both.

Physicians or medical providers found guilty of performing illegal abortions will also have their licenses revoked.

PHOTO: Abortion-rights activists wait for state lawmakers to arrive before a Senate vote on a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy at the South Carolina Statehouse on May 23, 2023 in Columbia, S.C.
Abortion-rights activists wait for state lawmakers to arrive before a Senate vote on a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy at the South Carolina Statehouse on May 23, 2023 in Columbia, S.C.
Sean Rayford/Getty Images
PHOTO: South Carolina Assistant Attorney General Thomas Hydrick argues that a judge should not halt enforcement of the state's new law banning abortion when cardiac activity is detected during a hearing, May 26, 2023, in Columbia, S.C.
South Carolina Assistant Attorney General Thomas Hydrick argues that a judge should not halt enforcement of the state's new law banning abortion when cardiac activity is detected during a hearing, May 26, 2023, in Columbia, S.C.
Jeffrey Collins/AP

The suit challenging the ban was filed by Planned Parenthood and Greenville Women's Clinic. It claims the ban violates constitutional rights to privacy, equal protection and substantive due process.

"Today the court has granted our patients a welcome reprieve from this dangerous abortion ban. 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," Jenny Black, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said in a statement Friday.

McMaster had signed a previous so-called "heartbeat ban" into law in 2021, but it was struck down by the state's Supreme Court in January.

Fifteen states have ceased nearly all abortion services since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending federal protections for abortion rights

PHOTO: Circuit Judge Clifton Newman hears arguments on whether he should halt enforcement of South Carolina's new law banning abortion when cardiac activity is detected during a hearing, May 26, 2023, in Columbia, S.C.
Circuit Judge Clifton Newman hears arguments on whether he should halt enforcement of South Carolina's new law banning abortion when cardiac activity is detected during a hearing, May 26, 2023, in Columbia, S.C.
Jeffrey Collins/AP

The White House criticized the ban in a statement late Thursday. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said South Carolina's "extreme and dangerous" ban on abortions past six weeks " will criminalize health care providers and cause delays and denials of health and life-saving care."

"South Carolina's ban will cut off access to abortion for women in the state and those across the entire region for whom South Carolina is their closest option for care," Jean-Pierre said.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents the abortion providers filing the suit, applauded the court's decision to block the ban, saying it is "nearly identical" to the state's six-week ban struck down earlier this year.

"The court made the right call today by blocking this blatantly unconstitutional ban. For the past year, we have seen the dangerous consequences of these extreme laws across the country. Even still, state legislators have continued to cruelly gamble with people's health and lives, betraying South Carolinians and their fundamental rights. We will keep fighting to ensure South Carolinians' reproductive freedom is protected," Caroline Sacerdote, a staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

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