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Governor Henry McMaster Leads Coalition of Governors in the Fight for Life

July 29, 2021

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster is leading a coalition of governors to protect the lives of unborn children and defend the authority of states to regulate abortions in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Governor McMaster today filed an amicus brief, joined by 11 additional governors, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, urging the Supreme Court to reconsider and correct its previous decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania v. Casey.

“There is no fight more important than the fight for life. That is why South Carolina has stood tall and fought for life at every turn and will continue to do so until the lives of the unborn are protected once and for all,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “Today’s action is another step closer to overturning Roe v. Wade and securing the precious gift of life for an untold number of children.”

The brief argues that, “the judicial constitutionalization of abortion represents an unwarranted intrusion into the sovereign sphere of the States. Returning to the States the plenary authority to regulate abortion without federal interference would restore the proper (i.e., constitutional) relationship between the States and the Federal Government. It also would produce positive results, including letting the democratic process work as intended, deescalating tensions on this divisive topic, and allowing the States to serve as laboratories of democracy for establishing and implementing suitable abortion regulations based on the latest scientific knowledge.”

The following governors joined Governor McMaster’s brief: Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama, Governor Douglas A. Ducey of Arizona, Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, Governor Brian K. Kemp of Georgia, Governor Brad Little of Idaho, Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Governor Michael L. Parson of Missouri, Governor Greg Gianforte of Montana, Governor J. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, and Governor Greg Abbott of Texas.

Background:

  • In 2018, Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and its medical director filed a lawsuit against Mississippi’s state health officer and others challenging the legality of the State’s recently enacted Gestational Age Act, which prohibits abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation, with exceptions for medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality.
  • The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi entered a temporary restraining order blocking the Act and later granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and permanently enjoined the Act.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling, reasoning that in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Casey “no state interest can justify a pre-viability abortion ban,” that 15 weeks’ gestation is before viability, and that by prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation the Act “undisputedly prevents the abortions of some non-viable fetuses.” The Fifth Circuit rejected Mississippi’s argument that the district court should have weighed the State’s interests in assessing the Act’s validity, concluding instead that because the Act “is a prohibition on pre-viability abortion,” it is unconstitutional under Supreme Court precedent. Judge Ho, who concurred in the Fifth Circuit’s judgment, noted that although “[n]othing in the text or original understanding of the Constitution establishes a right to an abortion,” he believed that “[a] good faith reading” of Supreme Court precedent required affirming the district court’s decision.
  • On May 17, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Mississippi’s appeal and consider the following question: “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”

The Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments in Dobbs this fall and issue a decision in the case by next spring or early summer.

The full brief can be found here.