More than 20 states back South Carolina appeal over fetal heartbeat law

The states are asking the appeals court to review a preliminary injunction against the law.

Updated: March 16, 2022 - 11:49pm

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Twenty-one states filed a brief in support of South Carolina’s call for a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals review of the state’s Fetal Heartbeat Act.

The brief asks for the appeals court to review a preliminary injunction of a three-judge panel’s ruling to uphold the injunction against the law, which Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law in February 2021.

The law limits abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected and requires the health care provider to offer a mother to view an ultrasound, hear the heartbeat and view information on the fetus’ development before an abortion.

South Carolina previously banned abortions after 20 weeks. A fetal heartbeat can be detected after six to seven weeks, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

"From the day I signed the Heartbeat bill into law, we knew it would be an uphill battle – but a battle well worth fighting," McMaster said in a statement. "We’re grateful that Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and 20 other states share our goals of protecting the right to life and our concern with the three-judge panel's apparent disregard for South Carolina’s sovereign authority.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall led the amicus brief, which was joined by Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

“The Fetal Heartbeat Law is about protecting the lives of unborn children, but it’s also about protecting the Constitution and the rule of law,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that justifies abortions and, in fact, we believe abortion violates the constitutional rights to life and equal protection.”

The brief said 24 states currently require a provider to offer to display an ultrasound image to a mother.

“Yet the courts enjoined South Carolina’s ultrasound disclosure law,” the brief read. “Same for South Carolina’s requirement that abortion providers make the fetal heartbeat audible for the pregnant mother if she would like to hear it – a law that at least 16 other states have also enacted. And same for South Carolina’s requirement that an ultrasound be performed before an abortion is conducted – a requirement shared by at least 12 other states.”

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