AG Frey files amicus brief opposing anti-abortion regulations in South Carolina

September 8, 2021

AUGUSTA - Attorney General Aaron M. Frey is joining a coalition of 21 attorneys general led by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring in filing an amicus brief in Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. Wilson arguing that South Carolina's "fetal heartbeat" abortion regulations harm womens healthcare as a whole and a lower courts ruling blocking the law should be upheld. Additionally, the coalition also argues that the collective impact of numerous states across the country enacting restrictive abortion laws, or eliminating access to abortions, harms healthcare nationwide.

"Reproductive health care is under attack across the country with numerous states including South Carolina taking steps to make abortion care nearly impossible to access safely," said Frey. "These state laws do not only create an unconscionable barrier to accessing a safe and legal abortion, they make it more difficult for providers and patients to treat other health care needs, both reproductive and otherwise. As attorney general, I will fight hard for reproductive justice both here in Maine and beyond."

In February 2021, South Carolina passed the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act that prohibits abortions upon the detection of an embryonic or fetal heartbeat, effectively banning abortion after six weeks. Immediately following the passage of the Act, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic filed suit seeking a temporary injunction, which the federal district court granted.

In their amicus brief, the coalition argues that access to safe and legal abortion is an essential component of womens healthcare and restrictive abortion laws, like the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, lead to worse health outcomes for women. The coalition also argues that laws banning abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat have harmful spillover effects on miscarriage treatment and other healthcare needs.

Additionally, Attorney General Frey and his colleagues argue that the restrictions the Act places on women could also threaten residents of neighboring states as well as those states healthcare systems, explaining, "South Carolinas restrictive abortion laws will cause its citizens to seek abortion care in [neighboring states], potentially straining their healthcare systems." The coalition further says, "[g]iven that numerous states across the country have enacted similarly restrictive or more restrictive legislation than South Carolinas Act...[and] [i]f access to safe and lawful abortions were banned in large geographic portions of the country, it would create vast "abortion deserts" in which access to abortion care may be unobtainable for many people due to the obstacles created by the sheer distance from lawful abortion care."

Joining Attorneys General Frey and Herring in filing todays amicus brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.


Supporting documents

Planned Parenthood v. Wilson Amicus Brief