FILE - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster

(The Center Square) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and the other defendants in a lawsuit over the state's Fetal Heartbeat Act have filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The appeal argues 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 Senate Bill 1’s constitutionality. It also argues the federal district court erred by not recognizing the severability clauses within the bill when it issued an injunction against the law in March.

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

A severability clause states whichever part of the law is deemed unconstitutional should be deleted or severed from the law, and the remainder of the law should stay intact.

“While the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case related to Mississippi’s law offers great hope and promise for protecting the lives of the unborn, we must defend South Carolina’s Fetal Heartbeat Act against every challenge at every level,” McMaster said in a statement after filing the appeal Wednesday. “As I’ve said before, the right to life is the most precious of rights and the most fragile. We must never let it be taken for granted or taken away. And we must protect life at every opportunity, regardless of cost or inconvenience.”

The fetal heartbeat bill requires abortion providers to check for a fetal heartbeat before an abortion by conducting an ultrasound. If a heartbeat is found, an abortion is criminalized except in cases of rape, incest, medical emergency or fetal abnormality.

“South Carolina is standing up for the sanctity of life. I am grateful for the efforts of Governor McMaster, Attorney General (Alan) Wilson, and Speaker (Jay) Lucas in the fight to protect unborn children in our state,” Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, tweeted.

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 bill also requires an abortion provider to inform the patient of alternatives to abortion, such as the foster system or adoption.

“In attempting to ensure that a woman apprehend the full consequences of her decision, the State furthers the legitimate purpose of reducing the risk that a woman may elect an abortion, only to discover later, with devastating psychological consequences, that her decision was not fully informed,” the appeal stated.