The decade's most triggering comedy
The South Carolina Supreme Court upheld a revised version of the state’s ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy on Wednesday, reversing a previous ruling from the high court earlier this year that deemed the law unconstitutional.
In a 4-1 decision, the court said South Carolina’s constitutional protection against “unreasonable invasions of privacy” does not include abortion and that the state law was “within the zone of reasonable policy decisions rationally related to the State’s interest in protecting the unborn.”
“The legislature has made a policy determination that, at a certain point in the pregnancy, a woman’s interest in autonomy and privacy doesn’t outweigh the interest of the unborn child to live,” Justice John Kittredge wrote in the 51-page decision.
The court ruled in favor of a revised version of the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, which was temporarily blocked in January almost two years after Republican Governor Henry McMaster signed the legislation into law with overwhelming support from state lawmakers.
McCaster said the historic ruling comes after years of working to ensure the protection of unborn children in South Carolina.
“With this victory, we protect the lives of countless unborn children and reaffirm South Carolina’s place as one of the most pro-life states in America,” South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, a Republican, said in a statement.
The law prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, with exceptions for rape or incest during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, medical emergencies, or fatal fetal anomalies. Abortion providers who violate the law could face a fine of up to $10,000 and a two-year imprisonment.
The fetal heartbeat law was blocked in 2021. Still, it briefly took effect after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade and returned decisions about abortion laws to individual states. The law was then temporarily blocked in August 2022 until the court’s previous ruling earlier this year, which Justice Kaye Hearn deemed unconstitutional in the majority opinion.
Hearn, who has since retired from the high court, wrote that South Carolina “unquestionably has the authority to limit the right of privacy that protects women from state interference with her decision.”
However, she said “any such limitation must be reasonable and it must be meaningful in that the time frames imposed must afford a woman sufficient time to determine she is pregnant and to take reasonable steps to terminate that pregnancy.”
In response, the state lawmakers revised the law but immediately faced a lawsuit against the state filed by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, the Greenville Women’s Clinic, and two doctors.
Jenny Black, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said the decision puts “the dangerous politicization of South Carolina’s highest court on full display,” saying the ruling will cause “irreparable harm” to South Carolinians.
“This abortion ban is nearly identical to the ban struck down by this court just months ago — the only thing that has changed is the makeup of the court,” Black said, in part. “This abortion ban takes away people’s ability to control what happens to their bodies, forcing many South Carolinians to remain pregnant against their will.”
Abortion is banned throughout varying stages of pregnancy in more than a dozen states, which have different exceptions depending on the state, and certain restrictions in other states are currently not in effect due to being stuck in court. Since the historic overturning of Roe v. Wade, at least 15 of the 50 states have completely banned abortion outright, according to the Guttmacher Institute.