Case: Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. South Carolina

2023-001449 | South Carolina state supreme court

Filed Date: Sept. 14, 2023

Closed Date: Nov. 14, 2023

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On January 5, 2023, in Planned Parenthood I, the South Carolina Supreme Court declared the state's six-week abortion ban in violation of the state Constitution. The South Carolina legislature subsequently passed S. 474, which prohibited abortions once a fetal heartbeat had been detected with very limited exceptions. On August 23, 2023, in Planned Parenthood II, the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the fetal heartbeat ban, despite how similar it was to the initial six-week ban. In a footnote …

On January 5, 2023, in Planned Parenthood I, the South Carolina Supreme Court declared the state's six-week abortion ban in violation of the state Constitution. The South Carolina legislature subsequently passed S. 474, which prohibited abortions once a fetal heartbeat had been detected with very limited exceptions. On August 23, 2023, in Planned Parenthood II, the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the fetal heartbeat ban, despite how similar it was to the initial six-week ban. In a footnote in its August 2023 opinion, the court said it was "leav[ing] for another day" the meaning of "fetal heartbeat" and the point in pregnancy at which the ban applies. 892 S.E.2d 121, 126 n.4 (S.C. 2023).

Based on that footnote, on September 14, 2023, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed this lawsuit on behalf of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, Greenville Women’s Clinic, and two physicians. The plaintiffs petitioned the state Supreme Court for original jurisdiction, expedited disposition, and emergency injunctive relief. They asked the court to resolve the ambiguity raised in Planned Parenthood II as to when the ban applies, asserting that the uncertainty had caused providers to stop providing abortion care after approximately six weeks of pregnancy. The plaintiffs argued that the ban should apply at a later point in pregnancy, rather than only when embryonic electrical activity can first be detected via ultrasound (around approximately six weeks of pregnancy).

On November 14, 2023, the South Carolina Supreme Court summarily denied the plaintiffs' requests, and advised that the plaintiffs could file an as-applied action in circuit court if they wanted to challenge the meaning of the Act.

This case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Michelle Wolk (12/18/2023)

Related Cases

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. State of South Carolina, South Carolina state supreme court (2022)

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

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

2023-001449

Petition for Original Jurisdiction, Expedited Disposition, and Emergency Injunctive Relief

Sept. 14, 2023

Sept. 14, 2023

Complaint

2023-001449

Order

Nov. 14, 2023

Nov. 14, 2023

Order/Opinion

Docket

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: South Carolina

Case Type(s):

Reproductive Issues

Key Dates

Filing Date: Sept. 14, 2023

Closing Date: Nov. 14, 2023

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, Greenville Women’s Clinic, and two physicians.

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

State of South Carolina, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Facility Type(s):

Non-government non-profit

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Available Documents:

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Issues

Affected Sex/Gender(s):

Female

Reproductive rights:

Abortion

Cardiac activity legislation

Criminalization

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

Time-based abortion prohibition