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Judge Coble Upholds Fetal Heartbeat Act

by | May 20, 2024

By Holly Gatling, Executive Director, South Carolina Citizens for Life

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Monday, May 20, 2024) South Carolina 5th Circuit Court Judge Daniel Coble upheld the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, dealing Planned Parenthood, the state’s largest abortion business, a solid defeat.

“This Court,” he wrote, “will never supplement the will of the General Assembly with its own interpretation because it would be a direct violation of the Constitution and the sacrosanct doctrine of the separation of powers.”

“[I]t is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt,” Judge Coble wrote, “that the General Assembly intended, and the public understood, that the time frame of the Act would begin around the six-week mark.” Planned Parenthood argued in its latest lawsuit that its abortion business has declined by 75 percent in South Carolina as a result of the Fetal Heartbeat Act. It argued that the fetal heart is not developed until the ninth week of the baby’s life and therefore the killing of unborn children should be legal until that point.

Judge Coble’s comprehensive 29-page order shredded the abortion industry’s third attempt to strike down the law protecting the unborn whose heartbeats can be detected by or before the sixth week of life in the womb. Read Judge Coble’s entire order here.

Lisa Van Riper, President of South Carolina Citizens for Life, commended Judge Coble’s “thorough analysis of legislative intent.” She said, “His understanding of the Rule of Law is in keeping with the judicial philosophy of strict constructionist judges who understand the separation of powers of the three branches of government.”

“The role of this Court is not to determine whether the law is good or bad, whether the policy should be one way or the other, or to be outcome determinative based on personal views,” Judge Coble wrote. “The role of this Court is to simply determine the intent of the legislature in the enactment of the law in question and whether the actions of the legislature are within the bounds of the constitution as derived from the will of the people.”

Judge Coble cited 20 documented instances of the South Carolina General Assembly’s understanding that the fetal heartbeat can be detected at least by the sixth week of the baby’s life, and 60 instances of the State Supreme Court and circuit courts referring to the fetal heartbeat law as a six-week limit that protects the unborn with a beating heart from death by abortion.

The secular news media has reported extensively on the reaction of Planned Parenthood officials who say they intend to appeal the latest Court ruling against them. Planned Parenthood litigation drove up abortions occurring in South Carolina by 12.5 percent in 2023, but those numbers may decrease in 2024.

Judge Coble is the son of former long-time Columbia Mayor Bob Coble and Beth McLeod Coble whose father, the late Daniel R. McLeod, served as the South Carolina Attorney General from 1959 to 1983.

Categories: State Legislation