Attorneys general from 20 states and Washington D.C. have banded together to file an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit challenging a South Carolina law restricting abortion after a heartbeat is detected. The brief was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit last Wednesday, and comes just months after 20 other states filed a separate brief in support of the South Carolina law.
The South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act requires that an ultrasound must take place prior to abortion, prohibiting abortion if a heartbeat is detected. In most cases, this restricts abortion after about six weeks gestation. The law was signed into law by Governor Henry McMaster in February, but was challenged almost immediately by Planned Parenthood. It was then blocked from going into effect pending the outcome of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Mississippi case the Supreme Court is expected to hear this fall.
In their brief, the attorneys general made the claim that the South Carolina law would cause undue hardships on their own states. “History shows that people will cross states lines to receive proper care,” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring noted, having written the brief on behalf of the states. “As a result, South Carolina’s restrictive abortion laws will cause many of its citizens to seek abortion care in Amici States — potentially straining their healthcare systems.”
The brief was signed by 20 state Attorneys General, including those from Virginia, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
New York Attorney General Letitia James explained why she thought it appropriate to sign. “The unlawful efforts by South Carolina and other states to deny individuals their constitutionally-guaranteed rights through ‘heartbeat’ laws will not go unchallenged,” she said, according to The Hill. “I will always do everything within my power to protect our bodies and our choices.”
The belief that abortion restrictions like South Carolina’s violate a woman’s body fails to take into account a completely separate body — that of the preborn child. At six weeks gestation, the child is rapidly forming in the womb and her heart has already beat more than one million times. While the misguided perception is that women’s rights are at stake, the only thing truly at stake is the life of an innocent child.
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