Judge Pauses South Carolina’s New 6-Week Abortion Ban

May 26, 2023

A circuit court judge on Friday temporarily halted a 6-week abortion ban in South Carolina until the state’s Supreme Court can review the legislation.

The Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act passed 27-19 in the state Senate last week, despite opposition from Republican women in that chamber.

Friday’s ruling by Clifton Newman, at-large Judge of the South Carolina Circuit Court, came roughly 24 hours after Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed the new ban into law. 

“The status quo should be maintained until the Supreme Court reviews its decision,” Newman said, ruling on a lawsuit brought against the new ban by Planned Parenthood. “It’s going to end up there.”

In January, South Carolina’s Supreme Court struck down a six-week abortion ban passed by the legislature in 2021. The court had ruled 3-2 that the restriction violated a state constitutional right to privacy.

However, the judge who authored January’s ruling has since retired, and state legislative leaders contend that the new law includes technical tweaks that should sway at least one justice to change his mind.

The law’s passage comes a week after North Carolina’s Republican-led General Assembly voted to override a veto from Gov. Roy Cooper (D) of a 12-week abortion ban in that state.

Prior to the new legislation, the Carolinas had each been two of the few remaining southern states  with somewhat easy access to abortion. 

Most abortions are currently either outright banned or banned at six weeks in 17 states, primarily in the south and midwest.

The states’ lawmakers imposed their new restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade last June.

PHOTO: State Senate Chamber, Columbia SC; Source: Billy Hathorn

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