COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WMBF) — South Carolina’s new law banning most abortions was suspended by a federal judge Friday on its second day in effect.
Judge Mary Geiger Lewis put a 14-day temporary restraining order on the law and will renew it until she can hold a more substantial hearing on March 9 to decide whether to keep it from being enforced until Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against South Carolina is finished.
Gov. Henry McMaster signed the bill into law Thursday less than an hour after it was sent to him, but the national reproductive health services organization sued even before the governor put ink to paper.
The temporary restraining order was needed in part because more than 75 women are scheduled to have abortions in the state over the next three days, and most of them would be banned under the new law, Planned Parenthood and The Center for Reproductive Rights said in court papers.
The “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act” is similar to abortion restriction laws that a dozen states have previously passed. All were stopped from taking effect and currently are tied up in court. Federal law, which takes precedence over state law, currently allows abortion.
Planned Parenthood’s lawyers said South Carolina is “openly flouting this law.”
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said in court papers filed Friday morning that Planned Parenthood can’t be sure the law will be rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. With three justices appointed by Republican former President Donald Trump, they said, the court could overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision supporting abortion rights.
“We believe the Heartbeat Law is constitutional and deserves a vigorous defense to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary,” the attorney general’s office said following Friday’s decision. “Every generation has a right and a duty to revisit issues as important as this one. The Heartbeat Law protects life. Nothing is more important or fundamental. Today’s temporary restraining order is only a first step, but the legal fight has just begun. We look forward to further arguing why this law should be valid.”