UPDATED 8:53 AM PT – Friday, February 19, 2021
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a law banning most abortions in the state. The South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act restricts doctors from performing abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
“Our battles are not over, we have a duty,” McMaster stated. “It is a duty that we share as Americans and as South Carolinians to protect life above all else.”
The state House approved the measure in a final 79-to-35 vote on Wednesday. While the bill does allow for certain exceptions, including for rape, incest or if the mother’s life is put in jeopardy, several are opposed to the law.
“What I’ve heard people from saying is I cannot imagine having to make that choice and also think about whether I might be breaking the law or subjecting myself to criminal scrutiny,” said Ann Warner of the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network.
Planned Parenthood announced it was filing a lawsuit minutes after Thursday’s vote while arguing the ban blatantly defies nearly five decades of Supreme Court precedent.
“This bill we already know is unconstitutional bill, it’s going nowhere,” stated Rep. Ja Moore (D-S.C.). “It’s going to cause the state millions and millions of dollars of litigation just to be unconstitutional and be struck down by their courts.”
A fetal heartbeat can be detected six to eight weeks in pregnancy, which is a time where some women may not realize they are pregnant.
Doctors found in violation of the law could face felony charges, including jail time and a $10,000 fine. The measure did not take effect immediately as it is currently being contested in courts.
South Carolina’s move comes after similar bills were passed in dozens of other states, all of which are also tied up in law suits.