South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster continues legal fight to revive heartbeat abortion ban

An image of an unborn child. | Reuters

South Carolina has decided to continue its legal battle to allow the enforcement of a recently passed law that bans most abortions at the time when a baby's heartbeat can first be detected. 

Gov. Henry McMaster filed an appeal on Wednesday to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to reverse a lower court ruling against the ban.

The appeal argues that the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, which was signed into law by McMaster earlier this year, serves a valid state interest.

“The Act requires the abortionist to give the mother the opportunity to view an ultrasound, hear the child’s heartbeat, and receive information about her child. If the abortionist fails to do any of these, the Act gives the mother a cause of action against him,” read the introduction of the appeal.

“The Abortion Centers’ lawsuit, by contrast, seeks to deprive mothers of the right to receive relevant information. In these circumstances, the Constitution does not give the Abortion Centers third-party standing to represent the very women who would be harmed if the suit were to succeed—and who are even now being harmed due to the injunction.”

In a statement released Wednesday, McMaster argued that “we must defend South Carolina’s Fetal Heartbeat Act against every challenge at every level.”

“As I’ve said before, the right to life is the most precious of rights and the most fragile. We must never let it be taken for granted or taken away. And we must protect life at every opportunity, regardless of cost or inconvenience,” he added.

Signed into law by McMaster in February, the Act prohibited abortions when a baby's heartbeat can be detected, which normally occurs as early as six weeks into a pregnancy; it also provides an exemption for when a mother has a life-threatening medical emergency.

Soon after the bill was signed into law, a group of abortion providers filed suit against the law, with U.S. District Court Judge Mary Geiger Lewis blocking enforcement of the law in March.

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, one of the plaintiffs in the case, released a statement at the time celebrating the ruling.

“We applaud the court’s decision to protect South Carolinians from this abortion ban,” stated Johnson, as quoted by back in March.

“Despite today’s temporary win, we know there is a long road ahead as the fight to preserve abortion access intensifies by the day.” 

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