South Carolina Judge Blocks State GOP’s Latest Six-Week Abortion Ban


A ban on most abortions in the southeastern state of South Carolina has been blocked by a judge there as legal challenges move forward. The ban covered abortions after some six weeks of pregnancy, which has been widely identified as a point when many who are pregnant don’t even know it, meaning such a ban effectively blocks all opportunities for abortion for many.

In South Carolina, the state Supreme Court had previously ruled against a recent law from state Republicans that covered much the same ground, and as explained in a new report from the Associated Press, the judge handling this latest leg of this dispute wasn’t inclined to forge something new in potential contravention of the decision made by the state’s highest judicial body.

There have been changes in the composition of that higher court since the original decision, leading to Republican hopes for a different outcome this time around. Kaye Hearn, who served on that court, has since retired, and another member who previously expressed opposition also indicated an evident openness to changing his rhetorical tune, which legislators evidently held in consideration when putting together these latest restrictions.

The new decision to block the latest ban until further judicial review was from South Carolina Judge Clifton Newman, and the underlying case, which was filed right after the state’s GOP Governor Henry McMaster signed the new restrictions, includes the involvement of an arm of Planned Parenthood. “The status quo should be maintained until the Supreme Court reviews its decision,” Newman said, per the Associated Press. “It’s going to end up there.” He explicitly rebuffed arguments from a state team that he take the past Supreme Court decision against the earlier ban as narrowly focusing on, well, the earlier ban, clearly deciding it set enough of a precedent to stick with it.

Immediate negative impacts were already taking shape after McMaster’s signature and before Newman’s decision in favor of the temporary block, as cancelling appointments was necessary to ensure compliance. Consequences for violating the new ban are substantial, including felony charges and time in jail. In proactive responses to some of the serious consequences for which Republicans have shown an affinity, Democratic officials in many states nationwide have established their jurisdictions will not be cooperating with potential investigations or cases emerging in another state or locality over obtaining an abortion.