South Carolina Supreme Court strikes down state abortion ban

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Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 7:00 PM EST
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(AP) - The South Carolina Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a ban on abortion after cardiac activity is detected — typically around six weeks — ruling the restriction enacted by the Deep South state violates a state constitutional right to privacy.

The 3-2 decision comes nearly two years after Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed the restriction into law. The ban, which included exceptions for pregnancies by rape or incest or pregnancies that endanger the patient’s life, drew lawsuits almost immediately.

Justice Kaye Hearn wrote for the majority that the state “unquestionably” has the authority to limit the right of privacy that protects a woman from state interference with her decision. But she added any limitation must afford a woman sufficient time to determine she is pregnant and “take reasonable steps to terminate that pregnancy.”

“Six weeks is, quite simply, not a reasonable period of time for these two things to occur,” Hearn added.

Currently, South Carolina bars most abortions at the gestational age of 20 weeks.

On Twitter, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre applauded the clampdown “on the state’s extreme and dangerous abortion ban.”

“Women should be able to make their own decisions about their bodies,” Jean-Pierre added.

Varying orders have given both the law’s supporters and opponents cause for celebration and dismay. Those seeking abortions in the state have seen the legal window expand to the previous limit of 20 weeks before returning to the latest restrictions and back again.

Federal courts had previously suspended the law. But the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade allowed the restrictions to take place — for just a brief period. The state Supreme Court temporarily blocked it this past August as the justices considered a new challenge.