South Carolina Signs Six-Week ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Bill Into Law

The South Carolina Catholic Conference released a statement applauding the passage of the bill.

Fetal heartbeat shown during ultrasound.
Fetal heartbeat shown during ultrasound. (photo: Dade72 / Shutterstock)

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill Thursday prohibiting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy that goes into effect immediately.

The Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, passed the Republican-controlled Senate Tuesday in a 27-19 vote, a week after the House passed the bill. The new law includes exceptions for rape and incest, the life of the mother, and fetal abnormalities up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. 

“With my signature, the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act is now law and will begin saving the lives of unborn children immediately,” the Republican governor said. 

“This is a great day for life in South Carolina, but the fight is not over. We stand ready to defend this legislation against any challenges and are confident we will succeed. The right to life must be preserved, and we will do everything we can to protect it,” he said.

South Carolina had previously banned abortion after 22 weeks. The change in the law makes Virginia the only southern state that has not added further restrictions to abortion since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The South Carolina Catholic Conference released a statement applauding the passage of the bill.

“The Fetal Heartbeat Act is the strongest pro-life bill the state General Assembly has ever passed. The Catholic Conference thanks Senate leadership for coming together to pass a life-affirming bill that protects babies and their mothers.  

“We anticipate the abortion industry will file an immediate legal challenge. The battle will now move to the courts. For now, this is an incredible victory for life in the Palmetto State. Praise be to God!” the statement read.

Abortion providers Planned Parenthood and Greenville Women’s Clinic have filed a lawsuit challenging the law.

“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,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement.

South Carolina’s Supreme Court struck down a six-week abortion ban in January. Justice Kaye Hearn, who authored the ruling, has since retired. Her seat is now held by Justice Gary Hill, who was elected by both houses of the majority-Republican Legislature.