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21 States Join South Carolina's Fight for Fetal Heartbeat Bill, File Amicus Brief

March 16, 2022

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Yesterday, 21 states filed an amicus brief in support of South Carolina’s ongoing defense of the state’s Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act (Fetal Heartbeat Act). The amicus brief was specifically filed in support of South Carolina’s March 8 petition calling for the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to review a federal district court’s preliminary injunction of the law after a three-judge panel upheld the injunction.

"From the day I signed the Heartbeat bill into law, we knew it would be an uphill battle - but a battle well worth fighting," said Governor McMaster. "We’re grateful that Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and 20 other states share our goals of protecting the right to life and our concern with the three-judge panel's apparent disregard for South Carolina’s sovereign authority.”

“The Fetal Heartbeat Law is about protecting the lives of unborn children, but it’s also about protecting the Constitution and the rule of law,” said Attorney General Wilson. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that justifies abortions and, in fact, we believe abortion violates the constitutional rights to life and equal protection.”

Led by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, the following states joined the brief: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

The Fetal Heartbeat Act, signed into law by Governor McMaster on February 18, 2021, is a package of regulations that protect unborn life and promote maternal health. In addition to limiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the law also requires an abortionist to give a mother the opportunity to view an ultrasound, hear her child’s heartbeat, and receive information about her child’s development.

“At least 24 states currently require an abortion provider to offer to display the image from an ultrasound so the pregnant mother can view it,” the amicus brief argues. “Yet the courts enjoined South Carolina’s ultrasound disclosure law. Same for South Carolina’s requirement that abortion providers make the fetal heartbeat audible for the pregnant mother if she would like to hear it—a law that at least 16 other states have also enacted. And same for South Carolina’s requirement that an ultrasound be performed before an abortion is conducted—a requirement shared by at least 12 other states. The courts tread on South Carolina’s sovereign ability to decide for itself the purposes of its legislation, completely ignoring the State General Assembly’s clear intent, written in the text of the law, that if any part of the law were held unconstitutional then the remainder would not be invalidated.”

The full brief can be found here.

The American Center for Law and Justice also filed an amicus brief in support of the governor's petition. That brief can be found here.