Feb 19, 2021 - Health

Federal judge temporarily suspends South Carolina's new abortion law

Demonstrators protest during a press conference and protest by Democrats who walked out during a debate on an anti-abortion bill in the House of Representatives.

Abortion rights anti-abortion rights demonstrators protest in Columbia, South Carolina on Feb. 17. Photo: Sean Rayford/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A federal judge on Friday temporarily suspended a new South Carolina law that bans most abortions in the state, according to AP.

Why it matters: The 14-day suspension comes a day after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed the bill into law and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit.

Details: The "South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act" requires physicians to check for a heartbeat in the fetus, Axios' Shawna Chen reports.

  • If a heartbeat is detected — which typically occurs between six and eight weeks after conception — an abortion can be pursued only if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or if the pregnant person's life is in danger.
  • In cases of rape or incest, doctors who offer the procedure are required to report the crime to local law enforcement.
  • A pregnant person would not be punished for having an illegal abortion, but anyone who performs the operation may be charged with a felony, sentenced up to two years in jail and fined $10,000 if found guilty.

The big picture: U.S. District Court Judge Mary Geiger Lewi will renew the suspension until she can hold a more substantial hearing in March, according to AP.

  • Planned Parenthood has requested that the law not be enforced until after its lawsuit against South Carolina makes it way through the courts.
  • Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights said in court documents that more than 75 women are scheduled to have abortions in the state over the next three days, and most of the abortions would be banned under the new law, AP reported.
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