South Carolina renews abortion ban around 6 weeks of pregnancy, setting up legal fight

The law, which goes into effect immediately, restores the ban South Carolina had in place when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

May 25, 2023 10:41 pm | Updated 10:41 pm IST - COLUMBIA, S.C.

South Carolina’s governor signed a bill on Thursday banning most abortions around six weeks of pregnancy, setting up an anticipated legal challenge from providers.

The law, which goes into effect immediately, restores the ban South Carolina had in place when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. The ban was overturned by the state’s highest court as a violation of the state constitution’s right to privacy.

That decision had left abortion legal through 22 weeks of pregnancy, making South Carolina one of the last places with relatively looser abortion restrictions in the Southeastern United States.

The move further curtails access across the region with North Carolina set to ban most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy beginning July 1.

The South Carolina law bans abortion when an ultrasound detects cardiac activity, around six weeks, and before most people know they are pregnant. It includes exceptions for fatal fetal anomaly, the patient’s life and health, and rape or incest through 12 weeks.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic expects to quickly file a lawsuit and request a temporary restraining order.

Republicans said they tweaked parts of the new law so it can pass judicial review. The author of the 3-2 state Supreme Court’s leading opinion overturning the ban was also replaced after she had to retire due to age.

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