South Carolina six-week abortion ban temporarily halted
A judge has halted the implementation of a law that would have seen most abortions be banned in South Carolina.
The bill outlaws abortions at around six weeks of pregnancy - before most women know they are pregnant.
But 24 hours later, Judge Clifton Newman halted its implementation pending state Supreme Court review.
The majority of southern US states have curtailed abortion rights since the Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to abortion last year.
South Carolina's Republican Governor, Henry McMaster, has filed an emergency motion requesting that the state Supreme Court expedite the case.
The vote to pass the law largely followed along party lines but was opposed by the three Republican women in the state's Senate.
The bill, known as the "Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act", would ban abortions in most cases after early cardiac activity can be detected in a foetus or embryo - normally about six weeks into a pregnancy.
It allows for terminations up to 12 weeks in cases of rape and incest, and provides an exception for medical emergencies.
Abortions are currently allowed through the first 22 weeks of pregnancy in the state.
The bill is a revision of an earlier measure that South Carolina's Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional in January.
South Carolina had been seen as a last legal bastion for women in the South seeking abortion but recent efforts to tighten restrictions has put increasing pressure on the state of Virginia.
Last week Republican lawmakers in North Carolina voted to uphold a ban on most abortions after 12 weeks.