Judge Halts South Carolina Abortion Restriction

Judge Halts South Carolina Abortion Restriction wsjrenewal

A South Carolina judge on Friday issued a restraining order against a recently enacted law that prohibits abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy, marking the initial attack in a legal dispute expected to escalate to the highest court in the state.

Governor Henry McMaster, a Republican, signed the new ban into law on Thursday, and it immediately went into effect. Local abortion providers promptly filed a lawsuit in state court, seeking to halt its enforcement.

In January, the South Carolina Supreme Court permanently blocked the state’s 2021 law that banned most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, declaring in a 3-2 ruling that it violated the right to privacy as outlined in the state constitution.

This decision was a crucial legal triumph for advocates of abortion rights, granting South Carolina relatively strong access compared to other states in the South.

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It is not expected that Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman’s ruling on Friday will be the final verdict on this matter. The new law will face the ultimate test when it goes before the state’s highest court, which underwent changes due to the recent retirement of a justice who played a key role in the January decision.

The lawsuit filed by abortion providers argues that the new law “directly contradicts the South Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling.” They further contend that by limiting women’s ability to make deeply personal choices, the law infringes upon the guarantees of privacy, equality, life, and liberty enshrined in the state constitution.

Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, stated on Friday, “We have previously defended the right to life in court, and we are prepared to do so again.”

Currently, abortion in the state remains legal until approximately 22 weeks of pregnancy, as it has been for most of the period since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last June that ended federal constitutional protections for abortion. Judicial intervention has largely thwarted any attempts to ban abortion in the state since then.

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Following several unsuccessful prior attempts throughout the past year, the GOP-controlled state legislature passed the six-week ban this month.

Republicans deliberated for months before concluding the passage, determining the extent to which they should impose abortion restrictions in the state. In April, five female senators, including three Republicans, successfully filibustered a nearly total abortion ban.

South Carolina is one of four states to have enacted new abortion limitations this year. Florida legislators passed a ban on abortions after approximately six weeks of pregnancy, but its enforcement is currently pending a decision by the state supreme court regarding a challenge to the existing 15-week ban. Similarly, legislatures in North Carolina and Nebraska have also banned most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

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