FILE - Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall

(The Center Square) – Twenty states, led by Alabama, have filed a brief supporting South Carolina in a lawsuit over the state's fetal heartbeat abortion law.

“South Carolina’s fetal heartbeat law was struck down in an error-filled district court opinion,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall wrote. “Although Planned Parenthood and the other plaintiffs challenged only the law’s regulation of abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the district court enjoined the law in its entirety – including portions of the law that dozens of other states already have and regularly enforce.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and the other defendants in the lawsuit filed an appeal last week, arguing the lawsuit was filed by third parties, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and the Greenville Women’s Clinic, that don’t have the legal standing to contest the law's constitutionality.

The appeal also argued the federal district court erred by not recognizing the severability clauses, which say any portion deemed unconstitutional should be deleted while the rest of the law stands, within the bill when it issued an injunction against the law in March.

The South Carolina bill was signed by McMaster on Feb. 18, and the lawsuit against it was filed the same day.

The other states that joined Alabama's brief were Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

“At least 24 states require an abortion provider to offer to display the image from an ultrasound so the pregnant mother can view it,” Marshall wrote. “Yet the district court enjoined South Carolina’s ultrasound disclosure law. Same for South Carolina’s requirement that abortion providers make the fetal heartbeat audible for the pregnant mother if she would like to hear it – a law that at least 16 other states have also enacted. And same for South Carolina’s requirement that an ultrasound be performed before an abortion is conducted – a requirement shared by at least 12 other states.”

Th bill required an ultrasound and, if a heartbeat is found, an abortion is criminalized except in cases of rape, incest, medical emergency or fetal abnormality.

Abortions previously were banned in South Carolina after 20 weeks. Fetal heartbeats can be detected as soon as six weeks after conception, according to americanpregnancy.org.

“The district court tread on South Carolina’s sovereign ability to decide for itself the purposes of its legislation, completely ignoring the General Assembly’s clear intent, written in the text of the law, that if any part of the law were held unconstitutional then the remainder would not be invalidated,” Marshall wrote.