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South Carolina heartbeat ban marks next era of abortion battle under Biden

February 19, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 21.7%. 2 min read.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 17: U.S. President Joe Biden meets with labor union leaders in the Oval Office of the White House on February 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden met with labor union leaders to discuss and promote his $1.9 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus plan. (Photo by Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty Images)

South Carolina on Thursday became the first state in 2021 to enact a restrictive abortion law known as a "heartbeat ban," an opening salvo underscoring a potentially perilous situation for President Joe Biden's administration as anti-abortion supporters look for a Supreme Court fight over reproductive rights.

(CNN)South Carolina on Thursday became the first state in 2021 to enact a restrictive abortion law known as a "heartbeat ban," an opening salvo underscoring a potentially perilous situation for President Joe Biden's administration as anti-abortion supporters look for a Supreme Court fight over reproductive rights.

In terms of getting actively involved in a case before the Supreme Court that could threaten Roe, the attorney general could instruct the solicitor general to file a court brief in support of the abortion rights supporters bringing the case, or the solicitor general could be invited to present the administration's position at oral arguments, said Steven Aden, chief legal officer and general counsel at the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life.

Anthony List, said that the administration is "only a factor into the extent that they are going to continue to fight to end the filibuster and pack the Supreme Court," or to act on then-candidate Kamala Harris' promise during the campaign to require Department of Justice approval for state abortion restrictions.

And many abortion rights advocates have called on the Biden administration to go farther in its efforts to date protecting reproductive rights, demanding the repeal of the Hyde Amendment -- which bars federal funding from covering abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the woman's life is at risk -- and requirements surrounding medication abortion drugs that were recently reinstated by the Supreme Court.

The Biden administration could still work to stop state levels bans before the Supreme Court, since many abortion bills do not make it to the justices but are decided by federal judges, Ziegler said.

"I think the Biden administration is going to be doing its level best to shape who trial judges are, what kinds of priorities they have and who on the circuit courts of appeal, which are often the last stop for abortion legislation," she said.

Planned Parenthood President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson told CNN prior to the lawsuit that despite support from federal partners, "abortion access is going to face its greatest threats in the states," urging the Biden administration to make concrete steps on the Hyde Amendment, medication abortion requirements and federal abortion legislation, but also take a vocal stance on the issue overall.

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