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South Carolina’s Six-Week Abortion Ban Can Stand, Judge Rules

July 26, 2022, 6:02 PM

A challenge to South Carolina’s six-week abortion ban was transferred Tuesday to the state’s highest court in a ruling allowing the state law to remain in effect.

The order from Judge Casey Manning of the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas for the Fifth Judicial Circuit allows the state to continue enforcing the ban on abortions once embryonic or fetal cardiac activity is detected.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, Greenville Women’s Clinic, and two doctors sued earlier this month, arguing that the law violates the South Carolina Constitution’s provisions for privacy, equal protection, and due process.

“The court’s refusal to block this cruel and unconstitutional law is another blow to South Carolinians’ reproductive freedom,” the plaintiffs said in a joint statement with Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Center for Reproductive Rights. “This decision is a loss, but it is not the final word.”

‘Monumental Case’

The state’s request to send the case to the South Carolina Supreme Court was “an effort to bypass the judicial process and delay proceedings,” they said.

“This is a monumental case,” and it should be heard by the state’s highest court, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) said in an emailed statement.

A federal court blocked the law’s enforcement last year, but that case was stayed pending the outcome of the US Supreme Court case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Once the highest court in the land declared June 24 that there’s no federal constitutional right to abortion, the state law was revived on an emergency motion by Gov. Henry McMaster (R) allowing the ban to take effect.

The South Carolina case is one in a series of lawsuits challenging abortion restrictions under state constitutions. Abortion providers have won temporary orders blocking the laws in some states, including Louisiana, Michigan, and Kentucky.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Burnette Shutt & McDaniel PA represent the providers.

Planned Parenthood has received funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Law is operated by entities controlled by Michael Bloomberg.

The case is Planned Parenthood S. Atl. v. S.C., S.C. Ct. Com. Pl., No. 2022-CP-40-03569, complaint filed 7/13/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Kay in Miami at jkay@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tina May at tmay@bloomberglaw.com; Cheryl Saenz at csaenz@bloombergindustry.com