South Carolina Abortion Providers File New State Court Challenge to Six-Week Abortion Ban
Lawmakers passed the law despite the state Supreme Court striking down a nearly identical six-week ban in January
05.25.23 (PRESS RELEASE) — Today, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, Greenville Women’s Clinic, and two physician-plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to block Senate Bill 474, South Carolina’s newly-enacted ban on abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy. Today’s challenge comes just over four months after the South Carolina Supreme Court permanently struck down a nearly identical law, ruling that it violated the state constitution.
S. 474 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 and only if their physician reports the assault — and the survivor’s name — to law enforcement, regardless of the survivor’s wishes.
Abortion providers have asked a state trial court to block S. 474 on the grounds that it violates South Carolinians’ constitutional rights to privacy, equal protection, and substantive due process by banning abortion, providing inadequate protections for patients’ health, conditioning sexual assault survivors’ access to abortion on the disclosure of their personal information to law enforcement, violating the Medicaid Act, and improperly targeting Planned Parenthood through an unconstitutional bill of attainder. Plaintiffs are seeking a temporary restraining order that would prevent enforcement of the law, which will take immediate effect upon the governor’s signature.
Statement from Nancy Northup, President and CEO, Center for Reproductive Rights:
“South Carolina lawmakers have doubled down on restricting access to constitutionally protected healthcare, passing a six-week ban that is nearly identical to one that was recently struck down. But the South Carolina Supreme Court was clear – banning abortion after approximately six weeks was unconstitutional six months ago, and it’s still unconstitutional now. South Carolinians’ rights are once again being violated, but we will continue to fight back.”
Statement from Jenny Black, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic:
“State lawmakers have once again trampled on our right to make private health care decisions, ignoring warnings from health care providers and precedent set by the state’s highest court just a few months ago. The decision of if, when, and how to have a child is deeply personal, and politicians making that decision for anyone else is government overreach of the highest order. We will always fight for our patients’ ability to make their own decisions about their bodies and access the health care they need. We urge the court to take swift action to block this dangerous ban on abortion.”
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Just months after the state Supreme Court declared a six-week abortion ban a violation of South Carolinians’ rights, abortion providers are back in court fighting a nearly identical ban. Today, we are asking the South Carolina Supreme Court to do its job and protect people’s ability to seek basic health care, without political interference, by quickly blocking this cruel law. If S. 474 is not blocked, South Carolinians will be robbed of the freedom to control their own lives, bodies, and futures — and people across the region who rely on this state for care will suffer. Limiting a person’s freedom and autonomy is unconscionable and unconstitutional. No matter what, Planned Parenthood and our partners remain committed to fighting for our patients state by state, law by law.”
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.
Center for Reproductive Rights: [email protected], 917-637-3649
Planned Parenthood Federation of America: [email protected], 212-261-4433
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic: Molly Rivera, [email protected] or 919-438-1109