South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed a bill into law Thursday banning most abortions in the state after 6 weeks. The bill passed South Carolina’s Senate on Tuesday after defeating five senators’—all women—filibuster to block its passage. South Carolina joins a number of other US states who have passed similar bills into law, including Florida, Texas and Oklahoma.
The new ban relies upon fetal cardiac activity, meaning it follows other states’ efforts to pass “heartbeat bills.” Now, under South Carolina law, “no person shall perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting an abortion if the unborn child’s fetal heartbeat has been detected.” Anyone found to be in violation of the law faces a felony conviction, a potential $10,000 fine and a prison sentence of up to two years.
There are exceptions to the ban, including medical emergencies and protecting the health of the pregnant mother. There is also an exception allowing for abortions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, so long as they occur within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
McMaster said of the bill, “This is a great day for life in South Carolina, but the fight is not over. We stand ready to defend this legislation against any challenges and are confident we will succeed. The right to life must be preserved, and we will do everything we can to protect it.”
Shortly after McMaster signed the law, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, Greenville Women’s Clinic and two physicians within the state filed a lawsuit to prevent it from going into effect. President and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Jenny Black said:
State lawmakers have once again trampled on our right to make private health care decisions, ignoring warnings from health care providers and precedent set by the state’s highest court just a few months ago. The decision of if, when, and how to have a child is deeply personal, and politicians making that decision for anyone else is government overreach of the highest order.
The South Carolina Supreme Court previously struck down a Republican-led effort to ban abortions after 6 weeks in January.