Growing support for South Carolina’s Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act

By Dave Andrusko

On Tuesday pro-life Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a 32-page brief on behalf of Alabama and 19 other state in support of South Carolina’s defense of its Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act. Signed into law on February 18, U.S. Judge Mary Lewis issued a temporary restraining order the following day, followed by a preliminary injunction issued at the behest of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic on March 19.

On July 7, pro-life South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced he was appealing the preliminary injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. 

“While the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case related to Mississippi’s law offers great hope and promise for protecting the lives of the unborn, we must defend South Carolina’s Fetal Heartbeat Act against every challenge at every level,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “As I’ve said before, the right to life is the most precious of rights and the most fragile. We must never let it be taken for granted or taken away. And we must protect life at every opportunity, regardless of cost or inconvenience.”

According to Gov. McMaster, the appeal challenges the district court’s decision “on two primary grounds” and “requests that the order be reversed and that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit remand the case for dismissal.” Those two primary issues include:

  • The plaintiffs in the case, which consist of abortionists and abortion centers operating in South Carolina, lack both third-party constitutional standing and statutory standing necessary to bring suit against the law, and;
  • The federal district court erred in enjoining the entirety of the Fetal Heartbeat Bill by disregarding the Act’s severability clause and erroneously imposing its own views of the Act’s purposes.

At the very beginning of Alabama Attorney General Marshall’s brief, he notes, “For though the plaintiffs challenged only South Carolina’s regulation concerning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the district court enjoined many other laws as well.” The court “invalidated provisions of the Act that no one challenged.” (Italics in the original.)

That included a provision for an ultrasound prior to an abortion. As Marshall explained, “At least 24 states require an abortion provider to offer to display the image from an ultrasound so the pregnant mother can view it.”

The judge did so, Marshall pointedly noted, even though “the General Assembly had included a crystal-clear severability clause, and the rest of the Act could easily be enforced if the challenged provision alone were enjoined.”