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Attorney General Donovan Files Amicus to Fight for Abortion Rights

September 9, 2021

CONTACT:  Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, (802) 828-3171

Coalition Argues “Fetal Heartbeat” Abortion Regulations Harm Women’s Healthcare

Attorney General Donovan has joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general filing an amicus brief in Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. Wilson arguing that South Carolina’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion regulations harm women’s healthcare as a whole, and that a lower court’s ruling blocking the law should be upheld. The coalition also argues that the impact of numerous states across the country enacting restrictive abortion laws, or eliminating access to abortions, harms healthcare nationwide.

“Women have a right to safe healthcare. Not only are ‘fetal heartbeat’ laws unconstitutional, they would have a negative impact on women’s healthcare,” said Attorney General Donovan.

In February 2021, South Carolina passed the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act that prohibits abortions upon the detection of an embryonic or fetal heartbeat, effectively banning abortion after six weeks. Immediately following the passage of the Act, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic filed suit seeking a temporary injunction, which the federal district court granted.

In their amicus brief, the coalition argues that access to safe and legal abortion is an essential component of women’s healthcare and restrictive abortion lead to worse health outcomes for women. The coalition also argues that laws banning abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat have harmful spillover effects on miscarriage treatment and other healthcare needs.

Additionally, Attorney General Donovan and his colleagues argue that the restrictions the Act places on women could also threaten residents of neighboring states as well as those states’ healthcare systems, explaining, “South Carolina’s restrictive abortion laws will cause its citizens to seek abortion care in [neighboring states], potentially straining their healthcare systems.” The coalition further says, “[g]iven that numerous states across the country have enacted similarly restrictive or more restrictive legislation than South Carolina’s Act…[and] [i]f access to safe and lawful abortions were banned in large geographic portions of the country, it would create vast ‘abortion deserts’ in which access to abortion care may be unobtainable for many people due to the obstacles created by the sheer distance from lawful abortion care.”

Joining Attorney General Donovan in filing the amicus brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington. A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.