After South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill into law that banned most abortions after the first detection of the baby’s heartbeat, a lower court judge blocked its enforcement. As of July 7, McMaster is fighting against that ruling.
The bill – the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act – was originally signed into law by McMaster in February, and it prevents abortions after the baby’s heartbeat is detected – as early as six weeks into the pregnancy.
Section 44-41-630 through 680 requires abortion providers or relevant technicians to perform an obstetric ultrasound on the mother, display the ultrasound images to the mother and record a written medical description of the ultrasound images containing the preborn child’s heartbeat. Additionally, if the pregnancy is at least eight weeks after fertilization, the abortion provider is required to tell the mother that she may be able to hear the heartbeat of the unborn child if she wants. Abortions past that point would be considered felonies, except when performed in certain cases, such as risk to the mother or if the baby is a result of rape or incest.
But abortion providers filed a lawsuit, and U.S. District Court Judge Mary Geiger Lewis blocked enforcement of the law one day after its implementation before ultimately issuing an injunction in March – meaning that the law can’t be put into effect until it’s heard by a higher court; in this case, the Fourth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court.
But this case may soon see additional legal precedent play into its decision by another case. The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear another abortion case in October concerning a Mississippi court case, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks in the state. The way the Court rules on it could impact how the South Carolina case is handled.
McMaster released a statement on July 7 with the appeal, explaining his commitment to continue fighting for the right to life for preborn children.
“While the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case related to Mississippi’s law offers great hope and promise for protecting the lives of the unborn, we must defend South Carolina’s Fetal Heartbeat Act against every challenge at every level,” McMaster said. “As I’ve said before, the right to life is the most precious of rights and the most fragile. We must never let it be taken for granted or taken away. And we must protect life at every opportunity, regardless of cost of inconvenience.”
While the appeal is pending, McMaster and other defendants plan to continue opposing the challenge and defending the Fetal Heartbeat Act at the district court level.
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