COLUMBIA, S.C. — The 'fetal heartbeat' bill that was just signed into law Thursday has been suspended.
A federal judge has granted Planned Parenthood South Atlantic’s request to temporarily stop the law while it’s being challenged in court.
The pro-choice organization put in the request right before the bill became law because they say it brings immediate harm to their patients. The law bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.
"There was a little bit of premature celebrating yesterday I believe," said Malissa Burnette, Planned Parenthood's attorney. "They could introduce a bill again next year, but it’s still going to be unconstitutional."
Burnette added that the judge's order allows abortion services to resume right away. "The women that were waiting, who were already scheduled, they were going to be denied their healthcare services and we’re very relieved that that can go forward now," she said.
Planned Parenthood and Greenville Women's Clinic said they had over 70 appointments scheduled over the next few days that they would've had to cancel.
Before federal judge Mary G. Lewis granted their request, she said women have a constitutional right to get an abortion before the fetus is viable at 24 weeks.
"I’m not going comment on whether I’m surprised," said defense attorney Emory Smith with the Attorney General's Office. " e asked the court not to issue a TRO or preliminary injunction. She is going to allow us additional time to be heard on the preliminary injunction and I think that’s all I can really say at this point."
Attorney General Alan Wilson wrote in a statement that Friday’s temporary restraining order is only the first step in their legal fight. He says they, “look forward to further arguing why this law should be valid.”
Now that the 'fetal heartbeat' bill is suspended, South Carolina’s previous abortion law is in effect. This means women can still legally get abortions up until 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The judge will decide on whether to file a preliminary injunction, which would permanently halt the abortion law, in early March.