A new South Carolina law that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy violates the state constitution’s privacy, equal protection, and due process guarantees, Planned Parenthood says in a lawsuit filed Thursday.
The law, which went into effect immediately after Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed the bill, prohibits abortions once fetal or embryonic cardiac activity has been detected. It imposes criminal penalties, licensing sanctions, and potential civil liability on doctors and other licensed health-care professionals.
“The Act is an affront to the dignity and health of South Carolinians,” Planned Parenthood South Atlantic says in a complaint filed in the Richland County Court of Common Pleas. Family-planning decisions are some of the most personal and life-altering ones anyone can make, it says.
State lawmakers’ criminalization of most abortions “will inevitably result in more preventable deaths and worse health outcomes, disrupt families, and take an economic toll on South Carolinians,” PPSA says.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) said his office has “defended the right to life in court before, and we’re ready and prepared to do it again if necessary.”
The medical provider is seeking a temporary restraining order, followed by a judgment declaring the law unconstitutional and an order barring the law’s enforcement.
The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down an earlier version of a six-week abortion ban in January, saying it violated the state constitutional right to privacy. South Carolina is one of 10 states that include a specific privacy right in their constitutions.
The author of that 3-2 opinion, Justice Kaye Hearn, no longer sits on the court.
The current law is nearly identical to the prior version, PPSA said. Like that provision, the law refers to a fetal heartbeat. But “neither a ‘fetus’ nor a ‘heart'—much less a heartbeat—exists yet as a matter of accurate medical terminology,” the provider says.
Burnette Shutt & McDaniel PA, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Center for Reproductive Rights represents PPSA and the other providers, Greenville Women’s Clinic, and two doctors.
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. State, S.C. Ct. Com. Pl., No. 2023CP400274, complaint filed 5/25/23.
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