Federal judge extends restraining order on SC abortion ban law

Federal judge extends restraining order on SC abortion ban law
A federal judge extended a temporary restraining order on South Carolina’s newly-passed bill designed to ban most abortions in the state. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - A federal judge extended a temporary restraining order on South Carolina’s newly-passed bill designed to ban most abortions in the state.

U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis filed the order Friday, the day the initial Feb. 19 order was set to expire.

The new order will continue for 14 days, according to court documents, meaning it will continue through March 19.

By the time South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act into law on Feb. 18, a lawsuit had already been filed against the state seeking to block the state from enforcing it.

As written, the law is said to prevent most abortions in the state. It would block doctors from performing an abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which normally happens as early as about six weeks into a pregnancy. Doctors or healthcare providers who perform an abortion in violation of the law could face a felony charge with a $10,000 fine, two years in jail or both.

The bill includes exceptions for rape, incest, fetal anomalies and threats to the health of the mother. The bill also stipulates that doctors must give the sheriff the patient’s contact info within 24 hours if an abortion is performed on a woman who was pregnant as a result of rape or incest.

The law 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.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.