COLUMBIA, SC — Today, a South Carolina state court granted abortion providers’ request to temporarily block a newly-enacted ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy (Senate Bill 474). The ban took immediate effect on May 25, after being signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster. S. 474 is nearly identical to a six-week ban permanently struck down by the South Carolina Supreme Court in January.
The law bans abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy — before many people know they are pregnant. Similarly to the permanently-blocked ban, S. 474 contains limited exceptions for the life and physical health of the pregnant person and for cases of a fetal diagnosis “incompatible” with life. Under the new six-week abortion ban, survivors of rape and incest can only access care until 12 weeks of pregnancy (a period more than two months shorter than under the permanently-blocked ban) and only if their physician reports the assault — and the survivor’s name — to law enforcement, regardless of the survivor’s wishes.
The case — brought by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, Greenville Women’s Clinic, and two physician plaintiffs — asserts that S. 474 violates South Carolinians’ constitutional rights to privacy, equal protection, and substantive due process by banning abortion, providing inadequate protection for patients’ health, and conditioning sexual assault survivors’ access to abortion on the disclosure of their personal information to law enforcement, and by violating the Medicaid Act and improperly targeting Planned Parenthood through an unconstitutional bill of attainder.
Statement from Jenny Black, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic:
Today the court has granted our patients a welcome reprieve from this dangerous abortion ban. Our doors remain open, and we are here to provide compassionate and judgment-free health care to all South Carolinians. While we have a long fight ahead, we will not stop until our patients are again free to make their own decisions about their bodies and futures.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
Today’s court ruling offers much-needed temporary relief for patients across the state. But make no mistake: South Carolina politicians have made clear they will stop at nothing to strip their constituents of access to abortion—defying the state Supreme Court which just months ago ruled that a six-week abortion ban is a blatant violation of South Carolinians' constitutional rights. While these attacks continue, Planned Parenthood and our partners will not back down. Every person deserves access to safe, legal abortion, regardless of who you are, how much you earn, or where you live.
Statement from Caroline Sacerdote, Staff Attorney, Center for Reproductive Rights:
The court made the right call today by blocking this blatantly unconstitutional ban. For the past year, we have seen the dangerous consequences of these extreme laws across the country. Even still, state legislators have continued to cruelly gamble with people’s health and lives, betraying South Carolinians and their fundamental rights. We will keep fighting to ensure South Carolinians’ reproductive freedom is protected.
The plaintiffs in the case are Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Greenville Women’s Clinic — which operate the only clinics offering abortion in South Carolina — and two physicians who provide abortion in South Carolina. They are represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the law firm Burnette Shutt & McDaniel.