In a 3-2 decision, the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state’s ‘fetal heartbeat’ law, which banned abortions after six weeks of gestation.
The court ruled that the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act “violated a woman’s right to privacy under the state constitution,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.
The bill, signed into law by Republican Governor Henry McMaster in 2021, faced multiple legal challenges and is now void, despite clear exceptions made for rape, incest, and the well-being of a mother.
In a majority opinion, Justice Kaye Hearn sided with Planned Parenthood, concurring that abortion is included in a woman’s right to privacy.
“The time frames imposed must afford a woman sufficient time to determine she is pregnant and to take reasonable steps to terminate that pregnancy,” Hearn wrote.
“Six weeks is, quite simply, not a reasonable period of time for these two things to occur, and therefore the Act violates our state Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable invasions of privacy.”
Associate Justices George James Jr. and John Kittredge dissented with the majority, arguing that the state constitution’s right to privacy does not extend to abortions.
Governor McMaster and South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson (R) say they are reviewing further options for legal moves.
“Our State Supreme Court has found a right in our Constitution which was never intended by the people of South Carolina. With this opinion, the Court has clearly exceeded its authority,” McMaster tweeted in the wake of the court’s ruling.
Our State Supreme Court has found a right in our Constitution which was never intended by the people of South Carolina. With this opinion, the Court has clearly exceeded its authority. The people have spoken through their elected representatives multiple times on this issue. https://t.co/TNt5hajfH7
— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) January 5, 2023
Twenty-one Republican attorneys general signed an amicus brief in support of South Carolina’s heartbeat bill back in March 2022.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre took to Twitter to applaud the decision, writing, “We are encouraged by South Carolina’s Supreme Court ruling today on the state’s extreme and dangerous abortion ban. Women should be able to make their own decisions about their bodies.”
We are encouraged by South Carolina’s Supreme Court ruling today on the state’s extreme and dangerous abortion ban. Women should be able to make their own decisions about their bodies.
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) January 5, 2023
Nowadays, Jean-Pierre’s opinion on the abortion issue aligns with that of President Joe Biden’s.
However, back in 1981, then-Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. supported allowing states to decide on the abortion issue.