Case: Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. State of South Carolina

2022-001062 | South Carolina state supreme court

Filed Date: July 13, 2022

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On July 13, 2022, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, Greenville Women’s Clinic, and two physicians filed a lawsuit against South Carolina to challenge the state’s Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), a six-week abortion ban. This case was first filed in the Court of Common Pleas for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, then later taken up by the South Carolina Supreme Court after a petition for original jurisdiction was filed on July 20, 2022. Plaintiffs argued that South Carolina's 2021 six-week abortion ban violates…

On July 13, 2022, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, Greenville Women’s Clinic, and two physicians filed a lawsuit against South Carolina to challenge the state’s Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), a six-week abortion ban. This case was first filed in the Court of Common Pleas for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, then later taken up by the South Carolina Supreme Court after a petition for original jurisdiction was filed on July 20, 2022. Plaintiffs argued that South Carolina's 2021 six-week abortion ban violates the state’s constitutional rights to equal protection, due process, and privacy, which includes the right to medical self-determination. Plaintiffs sought (1) declaratory relief stating that SB 1 is invalid because it violates South Carolina’s right to privacy and guarantees of equal protection and substantive due process, and because SB 1 is unconstitutionally vague, (2) injunctive relief in the form of a temporary restraining order followed by preliminary and permanent injunctions that prohibit the enforcement of SB 1, and (3) attorney fees and costs.

On August 17, 2022, the South Carolina Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty, granted the petition for original jurisdiction as well as a temporary injunction blocking the enforcement of SB 1. The Court made clear that it was offering no opinion on the likelihood of success on the merits, and granted the temporary injunction in order to preserve the status quo and prevent possible irreparable injury to a party pending litigation.

On October 19, 2022, the South Carolina Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case. In the oral arguments, Plaintiffs argued that the state's explicit constitutional right to privacy should be broadly interpreted to encompass abortion. On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs' argument. It held that the decision to terminate a pregnancy implicates a woman's right to privacy and that because this Act severely limited—and in many instances completely foreclosed—abortion, it was an unreasonable restriction upon a woman's right to privacy and was therefore unconstitutional under Article I, Section 10 of the South Carolina Constitution. The court further reasoned that although the legislature has authority to at times limit the right of privacy, six weeks was not a reasonable or sufficient amount of time for a woman to both determine she is pregnant and to take reasonable steps to terminate that pregnancy. (Opinion No. 28127).

Although the 2021 law remains enjoined, the South Carolina legislature passed a similar fetal heartbeat ban shortly after the state Supreme Court decided this case, and in Planned Parenthood II, the state Supreme Court declared that ban constitutional. In Planned Parenthood III, the state Supreme Court declined original jurisdiction to decide the unclear meaning of “fetal heartbeat” and the point in pregnancy at which the ban applies.

Summary Authors

Kathleen Lok (1/23/2023)

Michelle Wolk (12/18/2023)

Related Cases

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. South Carolina, South Carolina state trial court (2023)

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. South Carolina, South Carolina state supreme court (2023)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

2022-001062

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

July 13, 2022

July 13, 2022

Complaint

2022-001062

Order

Aug. 17, 2022

Aug. 17, 2022

Order/Opinion

2022 WL 2022

2022-001062

Opinion

Jan. 5, 2023

Jan. 5, 2023

Order/Opinion

882 S.E.2d 882

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 1:39 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: South Carolina

Case Type(s):

Reproductive Issues

Special Collection(s):

Abortion Trigger Ban Cases

Key Dates

Filing Date: July 13, 2022

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Greenville Women’s Clinic (non-profit service organizations in South Carolina that provide reproductive health and family planning services), and two physicians under their employment.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Attorney Organizations:

Center for Reproductive Rights

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Attorney General of South Carolina, State

Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, State

President of the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners, State

Vice President of the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners, State

Secretary of the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Facility Type(s):

Non-government non-profit

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Available Documents:

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Order Duration: 2022 - None

Issues

Reproductive rights:

Abortion

Cardiac activity legislation

Complete abortion ban

Criminalization

Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)