Abortion

Abortion Stops a Beating Heart

By Holly Gatling, Executive Director, South Carolina Citizens for Life

The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has set the week of December 6 to hear the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Abortion Protection Act that is being challenged by Planned Parenthood and currently enjoined by a local federal judge.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has tentatively calendared the South Carolina case for oral arguments about a week after the U.S. Supreme Court considers a similar measure in Mississippi. A judge has blocked South Carolina’s law pending the outcome of a challenge to Mississippi’s new abortion law.

Planned Parenthood is suing South Carolina over the measure, which requires doctors to perform ultrasounds to check for a so-called “fetal heartbeat.” If cardiac activity is detected, the abortion can only be performed if the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger.

Lineup of cases

The U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned a 5th Circuit ruling against the Texas Fetal Heartbeat law that now is in effect and saving unborn babies’ lives, at least temporarily. The Texas fetal heartbeat law allows anyone to sue an abortionist who aborts a child with a detectable beating heart. The mother is immune.

On December 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Mississippi Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in which the high court will consider one argument: Can states pass laws protecting unborn children before “viability”? Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch will argue that Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (the two U.S. Supreme Court cases upholding legal abortion) are indefensible and should be rejected.

A week later, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the South Carolina fetal heartbeat case. “This appeal involves the limited power of federal courts to enjoin enforcement of state law,” begins the 52-page appellants’’ brief filed by S.C. Governor Henry McMaster. “Through several means,” the brief continues, “the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act advances South Carolina’s ‘legitimate interests from the outset of pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the’ unborn.”

McMaster’s brief assert that Planned Parenthood filed its lawsuit before the governor “even signed the Act into law.” U.S. District Judge Mary G. Lewis, an Obama appointee, “substituted [her] own assessment for the [S.C.] General Assembly’s judgement and the Act’s plain text,” the argument continues. She erred in failing to uphold parts of the law that provide critical information to the pregnant woman and that “many states have passed – and courts have upheld.”

The South Carolina law requires the abortionist to provide the woman an opportunity to see the ultrasound and to hear the fetal heartbeat if she so chooses. Informed consent laws have been consistently upheld by the courts. 

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