Sign up for the daily Inside Washington email for exclusive US coverage and analysis delivered to your inbox
Receive our free Inside Washington email
A judge in South Carolina has blocked a measure outlawing abortion at about six weeks’ gestation, a day after the state’s Republican governor signed the ban into law.
Abortion rights advocates and civil rights groups filed the lawsuit after Governor Henry McMaster announced his signing of the bill.
South Carolina’s latest legislation — which could expand sweeping restrictions and outright bans on abortion care throughout the US South, and jeopardize legal access to care for millions of Americans — is nearly identical to a bill that the state Supreme Court has approved. The court had stayed it last year. ,
Friday’s ruling means the state’s abortion rules reverted to previous rules that allowed abortion care until about 20 weeks after fertilization.
“The status quo must be maintained until the Supreme Court reviews its decision,” Judge Clifton Newman said. “It’s going to end there.”
His decision on May 26 comes just four months after the state Supreme Court permanently struck down a similar measure, which the court determined was against the state’s constitution.
Restrictions on abortion care “must be reasonable and must be meaningful in that the time limit imposed should allow a woman sufficient time to determine whether she is pregnant and to take reasonable steps to terminate the pregnancy,” Justice Kaye Hearn wrote the majority opinion January 5.
More than a dozen states, mostly in the South, outlawed or severely restricted most abortions within the year following the Supreme Court ruling. Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organizationstruck down a constitutional right to abortion care that was confirmed in 2009 by the decision Roe v Wade for almost half a century.
South Carolina remains the only state south of Virginia without severe restrictions or an outright ban on abortion care after the 12th week of pregnancy. Most of those states have banned abortion in almost all cases with limited or no exceptions.
This is a developing story