(LifeSiteNews) – South Carolina Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law Thursday a ban on aborting babies with detectable heartbeats, declaring that it “will begin saving the lives of unborn children immediately.”
The Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, generally at the first six weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape and incest up to 12 weeks, and exceptions for medical emergencies or fatal fetal abnormalities. It does not extend to babies younger than six weeks.
“This is a great day for life in South Carolina, but the fight is not over,” McMaster declared, WIS TV reported. “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.”
Planned Parenthood has already said it will file a lawsuit against the new law. It remains to be seen how the case will fare in court, given the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down a previous heartbeat law in January.
Enactment of the heartbeat law follows the defeat earlier this month of a law to ban most abortions starting at conception, against which three Republican state senators joined a Democrat and an Independent to filibuster, to the frustration of state pro-life activists.
Fourteen states currently ban all or most abortions, thanks to last summer’s overturn of Roe v. Wade putting abortion back in the hands of the democratic process. As state pro-life efforts continue, so does debate over whether the next Republican presidential administration would pursue national protection for the preborn.
At the same time, abortion allies are aggressively pursuing a variety of strategies to preserve abortion “access” in the new legal landscape, including easing distribution of abortion pills, legal protection and financial support of interstate abortion travel, attempting to enshrine “rights” to the practice in state constitutions, attempting to construct new abortion facilities near borders shared by pro-life and pro-abortion states, and making liberal states sanctuaries for those who want to evade or violate the laws of more pro-life neighbors.
President Joe Biden has called on Congress to codify a “right” to abortion in federal law, which would not only restore but expand the Roe status quo by making it illegal for states to pass virtually any pro-life laws. Democrats currently lack the votes to do so, but whether they get those votes is sure to be one of the major issues of the 2024 elections.