A South Carolina state judge has ruled that the state can continue enforcing its ban on most abortions around six weeks after conception while an appeal over the definition of a heartbeat under the law continues.

Planned Parenthood had requested that the law be set aside, arguing that its wording—specifically the definition of cardiac activity—could extend the permissible period for abortions beyond the current six weeks, potentially to around nine weeks. The law prohibits abortions after an ultrasound detects “cardiac activity, or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart, within the gestational sac.”

The current interpretation of this definition means abortions are banned approximately six weeks after the last menstrual period. However, what follows “or” in the law could suggest a fully formed heart, which medical experts state doesn’t develop until around nine weeks.

Abortion and the law

Circuit Judge Daniel Coble, in his Thursday ruling, emphasized the importance of legislative intent in interpreting laws. “This Court cannot locate one instance of legislative history indicating a time frame of any other period other than the six-week mark, much less nine weeks,” he wrote, noting that lawmakers repeatedly referred to the law as a six-week ban during debates.

Planned Parenthood plans to appeal, arguing that the law’s vague definitions render it unconstitutional. Their court documents indicate that in the first five months after the law took effect, three-quarters of women seeking abortions were turned away because their pregnancies were too far along, and 86% of these women could have had the procedure if the limit was nine weeks.

For now, the ruling maintains the six-week ban with exceptions for rape, incest, non-viable fetuses, and serious maternal health risks. “Life will continue to be protected in South Carolina,” stated Republican Governor Henry McMaster’s spokesman, Brandon Charochak.

Cover Photo: Wikipedia

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The post Abortion now hangs on appeal over the definition of a heartbeat in South Carolina appeared first on The Independent News.

ByAsir F