GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and the Greenville Women’s Clinic filed a lawsuit Thursday in response to the South Carolina General assembly’s Fetal Heartbeat Bill, which was signed into law by Governor Henry McMaster.
The controversial bill has been subject of vicious debate from both Republicans and Democrats on the floors of the South Carolina State House and Senate over the last several weeks.
The lawsuit alleges that the bill, which would prohibit abortions after six weeks – or after a fetal heartbeat is detected – with some exceptions, violates the Constitution and doesn’t give women enough time to get an abortion after learning they are pregnant. It’s aim is to prevent the bill from taking effect at all.
Most state Republicans, like governor McMaster, said Thursday they believe the bill to be a tremendous achievement in protecting the right to life.
Alexandra Thompson, an attorney from the Center for Reproductive Rights helping represent the Upstate groups in the lawsuit, says that the Fetal Heartbeat Bill is “blatantly unconstitutional," referencing the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.
“The Supreme Court has held for nearly 50 years that states cannot deny people the right to end the pregnancy prior to viability,” she said.
Viability of a fetus to live outside the mother is defined at 24 weeks, or 4 times the amount of time allotted to get an abortion in the legislation. Thompson says reproductive rights, including a woman's right to choose, are also basic human rights, and that this bill targets certain groups disproportionately.
“For instance, black people, people of color, people in rural communities, low income folks, people with disabilities…it just seeks to make it harder and harder for people to access their constitutional right to abortion in the state,” she said.
Thompson and many other Democrats are also mystified by the Republican-dominated General Assembly‘s choice to make this the number 1 priority for the Senate this current session.
“Their number one priority was banning abortion, rather than focusing on the real issues that are facing south Carolinians during the pandemic," Thompson remarked.
Meanwhile, state senator Josh Kimbrell, one of the bill’s sponsors from Spartanburg, says this is an issue that has been important to many Republicans for a long time, and that they view their push to protect life as an imminent need.
“Circumstances have changed, technology has changed, and to say this is unconstitutional is wrong," Kimbrell told FOX Carolina. “And to say it challenges viability...viability isn’t the only test here."
“What Planned Parenthood and others want it to be about his birth control, and that is both wrong and repugnant, and we are standing against that," he added.
Kimbrell says he is not surprised at the lawsuit – just disappointed.
“We are talking about a literal beating heart," he explained. “Medical advances in science have told us we can determine this, whereas in 1973 they couldn’t.”
He says exceptions Republicans added to the bill, which would allow for abortions beyond 6 weeks in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s health – with some reporting requirements for both rape and incest – are reasonable, and that they feel confident about where they stand legally.
“I think that with the way we have tailored the bill, it will withstand constitutional muster when we get to the Supreme Court of the United States; and that is where this will ultimately end up,” Kimbrell said.
There will be a hearing on the lawsuit being brought by Planned Parenthood and the Greenville Women’s Clinic Friday, February 19, at 1 PM at the federal courthouse in Columbia.
In other states were similar legislation has passed, like Georgia, federal judges have temporarily blocked the legislation, granting injunctions as challenges have been heard in the judicial system. Currently, no similar piece of legislation has been permanently put into effect in any other state in the country.
This is a developing story. Stay with FOX Carolina for continued updates.
Copyright 2021 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Today's FOX Carolina Flash Briefing
Stay up to date on what's happening around the Upstate and the Mountains throughout the day with FOX Carolina's audio flash briefings
Most Popular Stories
- Dal Kalsi, Anisa Snipes
- By MICHELLE LIU Associated Press/Report for America
- Jon Randall, Dal Kalsi
- Dal Kalsi