First legal battle over South Carolina’s most abortion ban bill set for Friday

COLUMBIA, SC (GRAY) – The Fetal Heart Rate Bill, to ban most abortions in South Carolina, was enacted Thursday, fulfilling a promise Gov. Henry McMaster and other Republican lawmakers made made to their constituents.

However, the governor’s signature was not the last chapter of this bill.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this step we are taking today has been a long time coming and monumental as a result,” said McMaster after congratulating his fellow Republicans on passing the bill. “But our battles are not over yet.”

The law project, also known as SB 1, makes it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which supporters of the bill say is around six to eight weeks after conception. It includes exceptions in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormalities or if the mother’s life is in danger.

If a health care provider performs an abortion outside of these situations, the doctor could face a felony charge, up to two years in prison and / or a fine of $ 10,000. The law also requires doctors to give a patient’s contact details to local law enforcement authorities if they perform an abortion on a woman who claims to have been a victim of rape or incest.

Hours before the bill was signed, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and the Greenville Women’s Clinic filed a lawsuit in South Carolina district court to block the bill.

“SB 1 will cause immediate and irreparable harm, and the balance of equity and public interest weigh in favor of banning this blatantly unconstitutional law,” the plaintiffs wrote in their petition for a temporary restraining order on the abortion ban in force.

In the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood and others argue that the law flies in the face of the landmark US Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade. Read the full complaint (story continues below):

The hearing on the temporary restraining order is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday. It is to be heard by Judge Mary Geiger Lewis, a federal judge appointed to the bench in 2011 by then-President Barack Obama.

Republicans and Democrats spoke of the potential legal challenges leading to the passage of the bill and both sides said they were confident their side would win in court.

After the trial was announced, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson released a statement saying, “My office will vigorously defend this law in the courts because there is nothing more important than protecting life. Wilson said.

The law will likely be ruled unconstitutional by the district court, as has happened in other states that have passed similar laws, said Professor Mary Ziegler, author of “Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v Wade to Present ”.

Then the case can be appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal. If it is still found to be unconstitutional and the state of South Carolina wishes to appeal again, the state can try to take the case to the Supreme Court.

According to Ziegler, it seems unlikely that the High Court would choose to hear the South Carolina case over other states that have already passed similar bills.

In the past, McMaster has said he believes the bill is constitutional and is confident it will win in court.

Legal experts say other states with similar “heartbeat” laws have faced long and costly court battles.

“Lawmakers of the past 10 years ago estimated that taking a case to the United States Supreme Court can cost between one and four million dollars. We’ve seen lawmakers in states like North Dakota, who passed a heartbeat bill, end up with a bill of around $ 490,000 and that was a good deal, ”Ziegler said.

Asked about the potential cost of legal battles, Wilson said all work on this case would be handled “in-house.”

Ziegler said there is always a possibility that legal fees could come from hiring outside experts to help with the trial and legal fees that might have to be paid to the opposing party if the attorney general loses in court.

A spokesperson for Wilson said that while things could change as the case progressed, it was not in their plan to bill taxpayers a bill at the end of this battle.

When asked how he felt about taking the fight on this bill, Wilson said he was aware of the fight ahead.

“I felt like a quarterback watching his running back before he handed the ball to him,” he said, standing next to McMaster as the bill signed.

Copyright 2021 Gray. All rights reserved.

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