Judge Temporarily Blocks Heartbeat Law Saving Babies From Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 26, 2023   |   1:51PM   |   Columbia, South Carolina

A judge has temporarily blocked South Carolina’s heartbeat law that saves babies from abortion.

Yesterday, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed the heartbeat law that makes South Carolina the next state to legally protect babies from abortions.

“With my signature, the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act is now law and will begin saving the lives of unborn children immediately,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “This is a great day for life in South Carolina, but the fight is not over. We stand ready to defend this legislation against any challenges and are confident we will succeed. The right to life must be preserved, and we will do everything we can to protect it.”

Not surprisingly, the Planned Parenthood abortion business filed suit against the law so it could continue killing babies in abortions. Today, it got a judge to block the law while the case moves forward.

Judge Clifton Newman of the Circuit Court of South Carolina issued the injunction pending a decision from the South Carolina Supreme Court about the bill.

“The status quo should be maintained until the Supreme Court reviews its decision,” Newman said, according to the Associated Press, adding that “[i]t’s going to end up there.” Newman issued the ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, who filed their suit in Richland County on Thursday.

Newman said he will “maintain the status quo” – meaning he will not overturn the State Supreme Court’s previous 3-2 ruling striking down an older heartbeat law passed in 2021. Abortion businesses can resume killing unborn children up to 20 weeks of pre-natal life pending action by the South Carolina’s highest court.

Circuit Judge Clifton Newman said he will “maintain the status quo” – meaning he will not overturn the State Supreme Court’s previous 3-2 ruling striking down an older heartbeat law passed in 2021. Abortion businesses can resume killing unborn children up to 20 weeks of pre-natal life pending action by the South Carolina’s highest court.

Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey said he expected the injunction to be appealed.

“I suspect what’s going to happen is that within the next few weeks, you’re going to get a ruling from the [State] Supreme Court on the injunction as to whether to maintain the injunction,” while the law is challenged or to allow the law to take effect.

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Massey noted that while there is no “right to privacy” in the U.S. Constitution, the South Carolina Constitution has an explicit right to privacy, but he said emphatically, it has “absolutely nothing to do with abortion.” The amendment was added to the state constitution in the early 1970s before the lethal 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme decision that was overturned on June 24, 2022. The South Carolina privacy clause was intended to protect individuals from government overreach into private bank records, phone records, and other privacy issues unrelated to abortion.

If it withstands the legal challenge, the new South Carolina law could save hundreds of unborn babies’ lives every month and stop most out-of-state abortion traffic currently flooding into South Carolina.

In January, the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the 2021 law by a 3-2 vote that concluded the 2021 heartbeat law violated the South Carolina Constitution’s right to privacy clause. Three factors have changed since that decision. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe on June 24, 2024. The make-up of the South Carolina Supreme Court has changed with the retirement of a pro-abortion justice. The new Fetal Heartbeat law (S474) was written to address the issue raised by the South Carolina Supreme Court about the 2021 law.

McMaster signed the bill into law in a ceremony where he was joined by members of the General Assembly and members of the pro-life community to sign S. 474, the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, into law.

Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey said the state needed to pass the bill to protect babies and stop the influx of people from other states having abortions.

In February, DHEC reported that 504 South Carolina residents received an abortion, compared to 482 visitors, according to Massey. And in March, 525 S.C. residents and 433 visitors received abortions.

“The abortion landscape has changed considerably even from our last debate on the issue just last month,” Massey, R-Edgefield, said, referring to the upper chamber’s vote in April to reject a near-total abortion ban. “South Carolina has become the abortion capital of the southeast, and there’s really no other way to say that.”

The pro-life bill includes exceptions for rape and incest no more than 12 weeks, fatal fetal anomaly and the mother’s life. Under House modifications, the bill includes several new requirements, such as requiring child support to start at conception and allowing a judge to decide if a minor can have an abortion should a parent or guardian be unavailable.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a leading pro-life group, applauded passage. SBA’s Caitlin Connors celebrated the bill’s passage:

“South Carolina’s heartbeat protection reflects the will of the people and the science. A heartbeat is one of the key vital signs of life, and once that heartbeat is detected, a baby has more than a 90% chance of surviving to birth. This measure will save thousands of individuals each year who will enrich the lives of others and the state of South Carolina,” she told LifeNews. “We thank South Carolina House members for their persistence during marathon days last week when Democrats introduced 1,000 amendments as a stall tactic in their effort to continue late-term abortions, and we’re grateful the Senate today sent this much needed protection to Gov. McMaster’s desk.”

If the law is upheld, South Carolina will soon join the 18 states that protect babies from abortions at 15 weeks or earlier.

The state’s previous heartbeat law was struck down by the state Supreme Court, which left open the possibility of passing a new measure. The legislature was in the middle of finishing work on the heartbeat law when the session ended and McMaster ordered a special legislative session so the bill could move forward.

The bill passed by an 82-33 vote in the House, largely along party lines with two Democrats in the chamber joining Republicans.

According to the State Department of Health and Environmental Control, there currently are 1,000 abortions per month occurring in the Palmetto State largely because of out-of-state abortion traffic. That means the law would save hundreds of babies every month and thousands every year.