Planned Parenthood Sues Over 6-Week Abortion Ban In S.C.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against South Carolina's six-week abortion ban in state court Wednesday, the latest in a flurry of legal challenges filed by abortion rights advocates in states restricting the procedure since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“We are facing a national health care crisis, and we are in the fight of our lives to restore and protect abortion access as lawmakers in states like South Carolina race to further restrict it,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement.

It's not the first time the nonprofit group has challenged the state's so-called fetal heartbeat bill. When Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed the ban last year, Planned Parenthood sued that same day.

The effort initially proved successful. A U.S. District Court judge blocked the law on its second day in effect, a ruling that was upheld this year in federal appeals court.

The injunction lasted until late June, when the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion, allowing the state's law banning the procedure around six weeks to take effect. The federal court decision came days after the landmark case.

Although the previous challenge hinged on rights afforded by Roe, this lawsuit argues the law violates the state constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection.

The plaintiffs — two physicians plus Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Greenville Women's Clinic, which operate the only clinics providing abortions in the state — seek a temporary restraining order blocking the ban's enforcement.

Republican leaders in the state have signaled their intent to go further than the current law. A committee weighing further restrictions convened last week for the first time, when hundreds of demonstrators testified before lawmakers. The legislators are considering a bill “to prohibit abortions."

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James Pollard is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.