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Following yesterday’s ruling, abortion providers are filing a petition for rehearing over ambiguity identified in decision

COLUMBIA, SC — Today, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, the Greenville Women’s Clinic, and two physician plaintiffs filed a request for rehearing on yesterday’s South Carolina Supreme Court decision, which upheld a ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy. The ruling represents a departure from the Court’s January opinion, which found that a nearly identical six-week ban was an unreasonable violation of the right to privacy guaranteed by the South Carolina Constitution.

This petition is based on the ambiguity of the definition of “fetal heartbeat” raised by the Court at oral argument and in yesterday’s decision. The majority opinion said that it was “leav[ing] for another day” the critical question of the meaning of “fetal heartbeat’” and whether or not its definition refers to the point at which a fetal heart has actually been formed, which occurs later in pregnancy than the point at which the State claims the law bans abortion.

As Chief Justice Beatty noted in his dissent, so-called fetal heartbeat bans, like South Carolina’s, are “quintessential example[s] of political gaslighting,” because they use “medically and scientifically inaccurate” terminology. Without clarification from the Court, the point in pregnancy at which the ban prohibits abortions remains ambiguous. 

Statement from Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and the Greenville Women’s Clinic and the Greenville Women’s Clinic:

“Yesterday’s decision to uphold South Carolina’s abortion ban has already resulted in even more chaos in the health care system. South Carolinians are being denied the health care they need.  We need clarity from the court now. Today, we’re continuing our fight to protect abortion access in South Carolina. To our patients: our commitment to helping you get the care you deserve is unwavering. We will continue to provide the care that we can within the law, and do everything possible for those who turn to us.”

The plaintiffs in the case are Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Greenville Women’s Clinic — which operate the only clinics offering abortion in South Carolina — and two physicians who provide abortion in South Carolina. They are represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the South Carolina law firm Burnette Shutt & McDaniel.