A federal judge in South Carolina quickly blocked a pro-life law Friday that could save thousands of unborn babies from abortion every year.
WSPA News 7 reports U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis, an appointee of President Barack Obama, agreed to temporarily block the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act in response to a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and the Greenville Women’s Clinic.
The pro-life law prohibits abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, typically about six weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions are allowed in cases of rape, incest or risks to the mother’s life. Abortionists who violate the law could face a $10,000 fine or imprisonment for up to two years.
If enforced, the legislation has the potential to save thousands of babies’ lives. The state health department reported more than 2,500 abortions after six weeks in 2019.
Planned Parenthood stopped aborting unborn babies after Gov. Henry McMaster signed the law Thursday, but it promised to begin again if the judge blocked the law.
With the judge’s order now in place, dozens of unborn babies likely will be killed in abortions this weekend in South Carolina.
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According to The State, the Planned Parenthood and Greenville clinics said in the lawsuit that they have more than 75 abortion appointments scheduled during the next 72 hours.
“Many additional South Carolinians await [abortions] next week and in the weeks that follow,” the lawsuit states.
State Attorney General Alan Wilson defended the pro-life law in court, telling the judge that a “heartbeat is a key indicator of human life. As set forth in the General Assembly’s findings the presence of a heartbeat is a sign that the fetus is highly likely to survive until live birth,” according to The State.
In a statement, Wilson promised to “vigorously defend this law in court because there is nothing more important than protecting life.”
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood celebrated the ruling on Twitter, writing: “As a leading provider of reproductive health care in the state, including abortion, our doors are open to the South Carolinians who depend on us every day. We will never stop fighting on behalf of [our] patients.”
A number of states have passed heartbeat laws in recent years, but most have been banned from enforcing them due to legal challenges by abortion activist groups. Other states with heartbeat laws include Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Tennessee. However, all of the states have been blocked from enforcing them by court orders.
Polls suggest many Americans support strong limits on abortion. A 2019 Hill-HarrisX survey found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive. Gallup polls also consistently have found that a majority of Americans think all or most abortions should be illegal.
Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.
Though the high court currently has a conservative majority, Chief Justice John Roberts, who was nominated by a Republican president, has sided with the liberal justices on a number of occasions.
In 1973, the Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead forced states to legalize abortion on demand. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.