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COLUMBIA, South Carolina (LifeSiteNews) — South Carolina Circuit Judge Clifton Newman has temporarily blocked a ban on abortion for babies with detectable heartbeats, just a day after it was signed into law.

The Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, generally at the first six weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape and incest up to 12 weeks and exceptions for medical emergencies or fatal fetal abnormalities. It does not extend to babies younger than six weeks. 

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed it last Thursday, while warning that he anticipated a legal battle and that his administration “stand[s] ready to defend this legislation against any challenges and are confident we will succeed. The right to life must be preserved, and we will do everything we can to protect it.”

On Friday, Newman granted a temporary stay against enforcing the law sought by Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups, Reuters reports, ruling that it needs to be reviewed by the South Carolina Supreme Court, which struck down a previous heartbeat law in January.

“I hope that the Supreme Court will take this matter up without delay,” McMaster responded. He and the legislature’s Republican leaders filed an emergency petition to the state’s highest court for an expedited hearing of the matter.

“Appellants are likely to succeed on the merits,” the petition argues. “The 2023 Act resolves the issues the Court found with the 2021 Act, from removing the prior codification of the Roe trimester framework to clarifying the State’s compelling interest in the life of the unborn child to addressing the ‘informed choice’ concern.”

“Appellants will suffer irreparable harm without an injunction because the representative process is damaged every time a law adopted by the General Assembly and approved by the Governor is enjoined,” the petition further argues. “Respondents – two physicians and two facilities that perform abortions – will not: They cannot legally represent the interests of pregnant women on whom they seek to perform abortions, and they face no harm themselves from complying with state law. And a stay of the injunction pending appeal will protect the lives of countless unborn children.”

Fourteen states currently ban all or most abortions, thanks to last summer’s overturn of Roe v. Wade putting abortion back in the hands of the democratic process. As state pro-life efforts continue, so does debate over whether the next Republican presidential administration would pursue national protection for the preborn.

At the same time, abortion allies are aggressively pursuing a variety of strategies to preserve abortion “access” in the new legal landscape, including easing distribution of abortion pills, legal protection and financial support of interstate abortion travel, attempting to enshrine “rights” to the practice in state constitutions, attempting to construct new abortion facilities near borders shared by pro-life and pro-abortion states, and making liberal states sanctuaries for those who want to evade or violate the laws of more pro-life neighbors.

President Joe Biden has called on Congress to codify a “right” to abortion in federal law, which would not only restore but expand the Roe status quo by making it illegal for states to pass virtually any pro-life laws. Democrats currently lack the votes to do so, but whether they get those votes is sure to be one of the major issues of the 2024 elections.