U.S. Federal District Judge Mary Lewis, indicated Monday that her ruling concerning the “Heartbeat Bill” would soon be issued. But Judge Lewis did not give a time frame for her ruling on this matter, nor did she indicate if she would place a more permanent ban on the new South Carolina law.
The Fetal Heartbeat Bill was blocked immediately after the day Governor McMaster signed it into law in February.
Right-To-Choose, Attorney Julie Murray stated that the new law would “outlaw” the vast majority of abortions in this state. Murray, represents Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and others who perform abortions and women health care services in South Carolina. These service providers sued the State of South Carolina last month in order to prevent the law from taking hold.
Judge Lewis stated several times to Emory Smith, the Deputy Solicitor General for the State Attorney General’s Office, that the Fetal Heartbeat Bill goes against 50 years of U.S. Supreme Court rulings establishing a woman’s right to choose up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Where, the Bill only allows 6 to 8 weeks to choose.
In the past it has always been medically believed that a fetus could survive outside the womb at about 24 weeks if born prematurely.
South Carolina’s position on the matter is that once a heartbeat is detected which can be as early as 6 weeks is a sign that a child is likely to survive until birth. According to State filings, this should be the new standard to determine at which point an abortion can be done. This does exclude abortions that are deemed medically necessary by a physician.
Judge Lewis told Smith that the Bill “can never outweigh a person’s right to exercise her constitutional right to an abortion before viability.”
Judge Lewis continued, “It’s not what I am saying, it’s what the courts are saying – five decades of precedent.”
If Judge Lewis issues a preliminary injunction on this matter, that would allow her decision to be Appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Attorney General’s Office has stated that if needed he would argue this matter in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Two other issues raised in this matter, which Judge Lewis must rule on are:
▪ Whether to allow Gov. Henry McMaster and S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas to intervene in the case on the side of State Attorney General Wilson and other defendants. Lucas has filed a motion contending he has an interest in defending a law that provides for “the health, safety, and welfare of South Carolinians.” In a legal filing, McMaster asserts he has an interest in protecting the authority of a governor to “consider and approve” legislation.
Abortion rights attorneys oppose the intervention of Lucas and McMaster, saying that the state’s interests are already well represented by Attorney General Wilson and that the governor’s and the speaker’s participation “as parties appears to serve no end but their own political self-interest.”
▪ Whether to strike down other provisions in the law, including whether to require women in the early stages of pregnancy and who seek an abortion to undergo an intrusive vaginal ultrasound to detect a seeming pulse that some say is the equivalent of cardiac activity. The law also requires doctors who learn that a pregnancy was caused by incest or rape to report that to law enforcement.
At a hearing held last month before Judge Lewis, Emory Smith stated that he U.S. Supreme Court’s makeup has changed in recent years and the chances that a newly-constituted high court will rule in South Carolina’s favor are good.
The Heartbeat Bill was pushed in order to protect the rights of unborn children, and many medical believes have changed over the nearly 50 years concerning abortions.