South Carolina's 6-week abortion ban now law after Gov. McMaster signs bill. Up next? A lawsuit

Maayan Schechter, The State on

Published in Political News

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday signed a six-week abortion ban into law, triggering a court challenge filed by Planned Parenthood and its partners.

The signing, held with five Republican state lawmakers but no media — a contrast to the governor’s six-week ban bill signing in 2021, when hundreds packed the State House during the COVID-19 pandemic to watch — was announced by McMaster’s office.

“A few of us were there (Thursday) for the signing, but it wasn’t the celebratory atmosphere as it was when we passed the first ‘heartbeat’ bill,” said state Sen. Larry Grooms, a Berkeley Republican who is the lead sponsor of the new abortion law and one of the lawmakers in attendance Thursday. “Your second wedding reception isn’t nearly as large as your first.”

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, the Greenville Women’s Clinic and two physicians who provide abortions in South Carolina immediately filed a lawsuit in state court Thursday, asking that the law be blocked and for a temporary restraining order to prevent the law’s enforcement.

A hearing has been scheduled for Friday morning before Judge Clifton Newman at the Richland County Courthouse.

In January, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled a similar six-week ban unconstitutional.


“With my signature, the ‘Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act’ is now law and will begin saving the lives of unborn children immediately,” McMaster said in a statement Thursday after the bill signing. “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.”

On Tuesday, the Senate advanced the so-called “fetal heartbeat” ban, S. 474, in a 27-19 vote, mostly along part lines.

All five female senators — three Republicans, one Democrat and one Independent — voted against the House-modified bill, arguing the General Assembly had more important issues to debate and women can make their own decisions regarding their health care.

“I’m tired. I’m disappointed. I do believe that the compromise I offered (at 12 weeks, 20 weeks for rape and incest) was a good compromise for everybody. I think 12 weeks was reasonable,” state Sen. Katrina Shealy, a Lexington Republican, told The State newspaper Thursday. “It’s not what the right wanted, it’s not what the left wanted, but I think that it was a good compromise.”


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