South Carolina Supreme Court lifts 6-week abortion ban – Orange County Register

By James Pollard | Associated Press/Report for America

COLUMBIA, SC — The South Carolina Supreme Court on Thursday overturned an abortion ban after heart activity was detected — typically for about six weeks — ruling the restriction violated the state constitution’s right to privacy.

The decision comes nearly two years after Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed the measure into law. The ban, which included exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or pregnancies that endangered the patient’s life, drew almost immediate lawsuits. Since then, legal challenges have made their way through state and federal courts.

“The state undoubtedly has the power to limit the right to privacy, which protects women from state interference in their decision, but any such limitation must be reasonable and reasonable, as the timeframe imposed must give a woman adequate time to determine she is pregnant.” and to take reasonable steps to terminate that pregnancy. Six weeks is simply not an appropriate period of time for either of those things, and as such the law violates our state constitution’s prohibition on unreasonable invasion of privacy,” Judge Kaye Hearn wrote in the Majority Opinion.

South Carolina currently bans most abortions at 20 weeks.

Different orders have given rise to both joy and dismay for supporters and opponents of the law. Those seeking abortions in the state have seen the legal window widen to the previous 20-week limit before reverting to the latest restrictions and back again.

Federal courts had previously suspended the law. But the annulment of the judgment in Roe v. Wade through the US Supreme Court allowed the restrictions – only for a short period of time. The state Supreme Court temporarily blocked it last August as judges considered a new challenge.

The Supreme Court’s momentous decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization sparked a flurry of activity at the state level. Republican-dominated states went ahead with new restrictions, while pro-choice advocates sought additional protections. In July, Planned Parenthood sued South Atlantic over South Carolina’s constitutional right to privacy after federal abortion protections were abolished. Meanwhile, other states have questioned restrictions as a religious freedom issue.

In South Carolina, attorneys representing the state legislature have argued that the right to privacy should be interpreted narrowly. During oral arguments last October, they argued that the historical context suggested that lawmakers intended to protect themselves from search and seizure when they ratified the law in 1971. Planned Parenthood advocates representing the challengers said the right to privacy includes abortion. They argued that previous state Supreme Court decisions had already expanded the right to bodily autonomy.

The judges’ limited decision left the door open to future changes. The House and Senate failed to agree on additional restrictions during last summer’s special session on abortion. Still, a small but growing group of conservative lawmakers have vowed to push those boundaries yet again this term — despite the insistence of some Republican leaders, no deal is possible.

In a statement to The Associated Press, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson hailed Thursday’s ruling, which he said was “a voice of sanity and common sense to soften legislative action by Republicans, women and physicians.” to withdraw the rights”.

Republican Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives G. Murrell Smith, Jr. wrote in a series of tweets that the state judges were “following the path of the US Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade in creating a constitutional right to abortion where none exists.” Smith added that the decision did not respect the separation of powers.

Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard contributed to this report. James Pollard is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover undercover topics. South Carolina Supreme Court lifts 6-week abortion ban – Orange County Register

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