A 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has tentatively set a date of December 6 to begin hearing arguments against South Carolina’s heartbeat law, the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act.
The law requires abortionists to first perform an ultrasound, restricting abortion if the a preborn child’s heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks gestation, though the heart begins to beat just 16-22 days after fertilization. There is an exception in cases of rape, incest, or danger of health to the mother. The Act was signed into law by Governor Henry McMaster in February and was immediately challenged by Planned Parenthood. A court then blocked the law from going into effect pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, slated to be heard by the Supreme Court on December 1.
Following the lawsuit, 20 states submitted an amicus brief in July voicing their support for the South Carolina law. “South Carolina’s fetal heartbeat law was struck down in an error-filled district court opinion,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall wrote at the time. “Although Planned Parenthood and the other plaintiffs challenged only the law’s regulation of abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the district court enjoined the law in its entirety — including portions of the law that dozens of other states already have and regularly enforce.”
In September, 20 other states sent their own amicus brief siding with Planned Parenthood. “The unlawful efforts by South Carolina and other states to deny individuals their constitutionally-guaranteed rights through ‘heartbeat’ laws will not go unchallenged,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said. “I will always do everything within my power to protect our bodies and our choices.”
Life News noted that in a brief filed with the court, Gov. McMaster claims Planned Parenthood had filed its lawsuit before he had even signed the act into law, saying that U.S. District Judge Mary G. Lewis, “substituted [her] own assessment for the [S.C.] General Assembly’s judgement and the Act’s plain text.” He also argued that the judge should have upheld those parts of the law that “many states have passed – and courts have upheld” — namely, the informed consent laws that give women the option to see their child’s ultrasound and hear the heartbeat before an abortion.
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