COLUMBIA, S.C. — Today, a federal district court granted a preliminary injunction blocking a South Carolina law that would have banned abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many people know they’re pregnant. Instead of addressing the dire need for COVID-19 pandemic relief, Gov. Henry McMaster and the state legislature made passing this abortion ban a top priority. If this law had been allowed to go into effect, abortion would have essentially been banned for nearly 1 million South Carolinians of reproductive age.
This ruling comes as the court’s emergency order was set to expire on March 19. The original emergency order granted by the court came just one day after Gov. McMaster signed the legislation into law. Six-week bans on abortion have been enjoined in every state where they have been challenged, including in Georgia, Kentucky, Iowa, Ohio, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
The emergency lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Greenville Women’s Clinic, which are represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the law firm Burnette Shutt & McDaniel.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO at Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“We applaud the court’s decision to protect South Carolinians from this abortion ban. Despite today’s temporary win, we know there is a long road ahead as the fight to preserve abortion access intensifies by the day. Make no mistake: politicians across the country have made it clear they won’t stop until access to abortion is completely out of reach. Since Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court, we have seen an onslaught of attacks, with more than 300 abortion bills filed. 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 Jenny Black, president and CEO at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic:
“Planned Parenthood South Atlantic will never stop fighting to keep abortion safe and legal. Today we celebrate the court’s decision on behalf of our patients who can continue to come to us, their trusted health care provider, to access abortion and other essential health services. We urge Gov. McMaster to take heed of the court's decision and focus on improving health outcomes for people in South Carolina rather than attempting to ban abortion or restrict access to health care.”
Statement from Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“There’s no way around it: Banning abortion before viability is blatantly unconstitutional, and we are relieved this law remains blocked. Unfortunately, the fight for abortion access doesn’t end here. Anti-abortion lawmakers have introduced hundreds of new bills attempting to restrict or outright ban abortion this year as part of a coordinated campaign to overturn Roe vs. Wade.”
Statement from Greenville Women’s Clinic:
“It’s hard to believe our elected officials would choose to make banning abortion their first priority while South Carolinians are suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic. We are relieved the court has kept this law blocked. For now, we can continue providing time-sensitive, essential abortion care for pregnant people in our state.”
On top of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina is also grappling with dangerously high rates of maternal mortality, infant mortality, and unintended pregnancy among young people. According to the United Health Foundation, South Carolina ranks 43rd nationally in maternal mortality, with Black women dying at a far higher rate than white women. The state ranks 47th in infant mortality according to the CDC.
This ban is the latest in a dangerous trend of state politicians passing extreme legislation, like abortion bans, aimed at eliminating abortion access and overturning the constitutional right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade. This year, state politicians have filed abortion bans and medically unnecessary restrictions at a staggering pace — more than 300 bills and counting to restrict or ban abortion, with 40% seeking to ban abortion.