On Tuesday a federal appeals court ruled that a ban on South Carolina’s heartbeat law will stand. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling that temporarily blocked the state’s law prohibiting abortions after a preborn child’s heartbeat is detected.
The law, which was signed by Gov. Henry McMaster in February 2021, requires that all pregnant women seeking an abortion must first undergo an ultrasound. If the preborn baby’s heartbeat is detected (which usually occurs around six weeks, though the heart begins to beat just 16-22 days after fertilization), then abortion would be prohibited. The law does include exceptions for rape and incest. It was immediately challenged by Planned Parenthood and blocked by a district court judge just one day after it went into effect.
According to WLOS, the three-judge panel rejected the state’s argument that the court shouldn’t block all provisions included in the law. Instead, the court determined that the provisions which include the medical practitioner offering an ultrasound, showing it to the patient, and determining whether or not a heartbeat is present, are in place to implement an abortion ban.
“These provisions serve to carry out the six-week abortion ban and make little sense without the ban. As such, the district court did not abuse its discretion by declining to sever the remaining portions of the Act,” Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote for the court in the 3-0 ruling.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson expressed his disappointment at the court’s ruling. “We are disappointed in the Court’s opinion. However, we will continue to explore any and all means necessary to protect life in the remaining stages of this case as well as in any other cases that may arise,” he said in a statement.
Dave Wilson, president of the Palmetto Family Council, also spoke out against the ruling. “When this bill was signed into law in February of last year, the state of South Carolina made a definitive statement that said if you have a heartbeat, it is the responsibility of the state of South Carolina to protect your life. That is wholeheartedly where the majority of people in South Carolina stand,” he said.
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