Planned Parenthood filed the restraining order Thursday.
COLUMBIA, SC – A federal judge has temporarily blocked a new law that bans most abortions in South Carolina.
Judge Mary Geiger Lewis issued the temporary restraining order on Friday afternoon. It is valid for 14 days and gives the defense more time to put together their arguments.
Planned Parenthood filed the restraining order on Thursday, around the same time Governor Henry McMaster enacted the South Carolina Fetal Heart Rate and Abortion Protection Act.
The defense has until March 2 to file its arguments.
Geiger said she would renew the order after 14 days when it ends and decide whether to rule on a preliminary injunction. This action would permanently prevent the law from entering into force.
The new law prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six to eight weeks after conception. This is often before most women know they are pregnant.
The bill would fine doctors $ 10,000 for failing to check for a fetal heartbeat or for performing a test but doing it anyway. They would also face two years in prison for the felony. The bill makes no mention of penalties for women who request an abortion.
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The bill provides exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape and incest and when the mother’s life is in danger.
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Governor McMaster tweeted a short response on Friday afternoon.
“As I said, we will defend this law at every stop. No trial can weaken our resolve to fight for life.”
In response to this action, SC Attorney General Alan Wilson issued the following statement:
“We believe the Heartbeat Law is constitutional and deserves vigorous defense in the United States Supreme Court if necessary. Every generation has the right and duty to review matters as important as this one. The Heartbeat Law protects life. Nothing is more important or fundamental. Today’s temporary restraining order is only a first step, but the legal fight is only just beginning. We look forward to further discussing the validity of this law. “
Final passage of the bill came on Thursday when the House approved it in a third vote. About two hours later, McMaster enacted it.
“It is a duty that we share, as Americans and South Carolinians, to protect life above all,” said the governor in his speech before signing the bill.
There had been an expedited process this session to get the measure approved. GOP lawmakers, encouraged by the gains made in the General Assembly last November, lobbied for the bill. The proposal was passed by the Senate on January 28.