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September 9, 2021
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 20 other attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. Wilson arguing that South Carolina's "fetal heartbeat" abortion regulations harm women's healthcare as a whole and a lower court's 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 women's healthcare nationwide.
"This law and others like it around the country only serve to harm women's access to healthcare and must be struck down," Nessel said. "We have an obligation to speak out against these restrictive regulations and maintain our commitment to protecting a woman's right to make decisions about her own body."
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 women's 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, the coalition argues that the restrictions the Act places on women could also threaten residents of neighboring states as well as those states' healthcare systems, explaining, "South Carolina's 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 Carolina's 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 Attorney General Nessel in filing this amicus brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.