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AG Mark Herring Leads Coalition of 21 AGs in Fighting to Protect Women’s Access to Abortion Services


From AG Mark Herring’s office:

~ Herring has filed an amicus brief arguing that South Carolina’s six-week abortion ban harms women’s healthcare as a whole and should be struck down ~

RICHMOND (September 8, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring is leading a coalition of 21 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. Wilson arguing that South Carolina’s six-week abortion ban harms women’s healthcare and a lower court’s ruling blocking the law should be upheld.

“We are seeing a disturbing wave of restrictive abortion laws being passed in states across the country. These restrictive laws, like South Carolina’s, not only have serious negative effects on women’s healthcare overall, but they also force women to seek medical care in other states if they lose that access in their home state,” said Attorney General Herring. “Reproductive healthcare decisions should be made between a woman and her healthcare provider – they should not be made by her government. As more laws restricting abortion access are passed in this country, I will do everything I can to fight them and ensure that a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion is protected.”

In February 2021, South Carolina passed a new restriction on abortion that effectively banned the procedure after six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant. Immediately following the passage of the Act, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic filed suit seeking a temporary injunction, which the federal district court granted.

In his amicus brief, Attorney General Herring 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, Attorney General Herring 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 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.”

Attorney General Herring has been a strong advocate for women’s healthcare and reproductive rights in Virginia. He has stood against attacks on women’s reproductive freedom and has fought in court to defend women’s access to comprehensive healthcare services, including abortion and birth control. He issued an official advisory opinion that helped protect women’s health clinics from expensive and medically unnecessary retrofits that would have closed many Virginia clinics that offer abortion services. Attorney General Herring successfully fought alongside his colleagues in the Whole Women’s Health case to strike down Texas’s onerous, medically unnecessary regulations and he has fought for women’s reproductive justice around the country, working with colleagues to oppose medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion in Ohio and Alabama. Additionally, he continuously fought against the Trump Administration’s attacks on women’s access to the full range of reproductive health care services and contraception options.

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


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