S.C. court blocks abortion law as Senate considers new one

Aug 17, 2022, 1:36 PM | Updated: 3:03 pm
State Sen. Richard Cash, center, a leading supporter of South Carolina's recently implemented Fetal...

State Sen. Richard Cash, center, a leading supporter of South Carolina's recently implemented Fetal Heartbeat law banning abortion around six weeks, sits during a Senate Medical Affairs Committee meeting, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/James Pollard)

(AP Photo/James Pollard)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked the state’s “fetal heartbeat” law banning abortion around six weeks as lawmakers across the street were considering new restrictions.

The restrictions, previously blocked by federal courts, took effect shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. With federal abortion protections gone, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic sued under the state constitution’s privacy protections. For the time being, abortion is once again legal from 20 weeks of pregnancy in the state.

“At this preliminary stage, we are unable to determine with finality the constitutionality of the Act under our state’s constitutional prohibition against unreasonable invasions of privacy,” the Court wrote in its order granting a preliminary injunction.

Meanwhile, the South Carolina Senate had just started taking its first steps toward further abortion restrictions. The Medical Affairs Committee listened to nearly nine hours of invited testimony and public comment Wednesday as they consider language for another abortion bill. On Tuesday, the South Carolina House Judiciary Committee advanced a near-total abortion ban with no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Jenny Black, the President of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said the fight was “far from over.”

“We applaud the court’s decision to protect the people of South Carolina from this cruel law that interferes with a person’s private medical decision,” Black said. “For more than six weeks, patients have been forced to travel hundreds of miles for an abortion or suffer the life-altering consequences of forced pregnancy.”

Speaker of the House Murrell Smith said on Twitter that he was extremely disappointed in the decision, but remained confident the measure would ultimately hold up.

“The law is the overwhelming will of the South Carolina Legislature, and therefore a reflection of the will of the people of this state,” Smith said.

The justices noted that the legislature held authority to make public policy decisions within the restraints of the U.S. and South Carolina constitutions. On the Senate side, committee members emphasized they were not considering any specific measures at the moment.

The state’s recently implemented and now blocked six-week abortion ban loomed large in Wednesday’s deliberations. Abortion opponents said it had not gone far enough. Supporters of abortion access said its effects showed any new restrictions would be even more harmful.

Several doctors invited to speak by Democratic Sen. Brad Hutto outlined the ways the six-week ban had made their jobs more difficult.

Since the act took effect, doctors reported an inability to treat miscarriages because pharmacies had stopped carrying necessary medications in case doing so might be illegal. Lawyers were unwilling to advise them in case their comments might run afoul of the law. Some patients were scared to divulge their full menstrual history out of fear it may be used against them.

“It’s cruel and it’s creating stress and delays in what is already a tragic situation,” said Dr. Amy Crockett, a physician with board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.

Outside of the State House, about 50 demonstrators with Planned Parenthood gathered under a tent for a watch party. Protesters ate pizza and organizers provided snacks to those coming in and out of the committee meeting. As news of the court’s decision spread, they celebrated with hugs and high fives.

Hutto said he does not expect the ruling to affect lawmakers’ schedule. The Senate Medical Affairs Committee will present a report on Sept. 6, when the entire upper chamber will convene to discuss abortion restrictions for the first time since January 2021’s contentious debate.

Since those discussions, the Supreme Court has opened the door for measures previously considered not politically feasible by leading drafters of the upper chamber’s “fetal heartbeat” bill.

At that time, Republican Sen. Larry Grooms said that proposal posed “the greatest chance for life for unborn children.” Grooms said then that exceptions in cases of rape or incest would be necessary to garner enough support for the measure’s passage.

While Hutto said the upper chamber typically takes a more “thoughtful, measured approach,” questions around the issue’s changing politics remain.

“Now that the legal obstacle has moved out of the way, will they change their minds?” Hutto said to The Associated Press.

___

For AP’s full coverage of the Supreme Court ruling on abortion, go to: https://apnews.com/hub/abortion.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A worker wearing a protective suit administers a COVID-19 test at a coronavirus testing site in Bei...
Associated Press

China’s vast Xinjiang hit with COVID-19 travel restrictions

BEIJING (AP) — Sprawling Xinjiang is the latest Chinese region to be hit with sweeping COVID-19 travel restrictions, as China further ratchets up control measures ahead of a key Communist Party congress later this month. Trains and buses in and out of the region of 22 million people have been suspended, and passenger numbers on […]
22 hours ago
Electronic signage at an Optus telecommunications retail store is seen at the central business dist...
Associated Press

Australia updates law to protect data after Optus hack

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian government announced changes Thursday to its telecommunications law to protect vulnerable customers after personal details were stolen in a major cyberattack on the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier. The changes to Telecommunications Regulations allow Optus and other providers to better coordinate with financial institutions and governments to detect and mitigate […]
22 hours ago
FILE - The recently closed Savannah Medical Clinic, which provided abortions for four decades in Sa...
Associated Press

At least 66 US clinics have halted abortions, institute says

At least 66 clinics in 15 states have stopped providing abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, according to an analysis released Thursday. The number of clinics providing abortions in the 15 states dropped from 79 before the June 24 decision to 13 as of Oct. 2, according to the Guttmacher Institute, […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: October 6, the launch of Instagram

Today in History Today is Thursday, Oct. 6, the 279th day of 2022. There are 86 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Oct. 6, 1973, war erupted in the Middle East as Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel during the Yom Kippur holiday. (Israel, initially caught off guard, […]
22 hours ago
The ski slopes are almost devoid of snow at the Tūroa ski field, on Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand on Se...
Associated Press

Missing snow puts famed New Zealand ski areas on precipice

TUROA SKI AREA, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s Turoa ski area is usually a white wonderland at this time of year, its deep snowpack supporting its famed spring skiing. This season, it’s largely a barren moonscape, with tiny patches of snow poking out between vast fields of jagged volcanic boulders. The ski area was […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Former Uber security chief guilty of data breach coverup

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The former chief security officer for Uber was convicted Wednesday of trying to cover up a 2016 data breach in which hackers accessed tens of millions of customer records from the ride-hailing service. A federal jury in San Francisco convicted Joseph Sullivan of obstructing justice and concealing knowledge that a federal […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
S.C. court blocks abortion law as Senate considers new one