Six Weeks Abortion Ban Removed by South Carolina Supreme Court

South Carolina’s ban on abortion after six weeks violates constitutional rights to privacy that extend to the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled on Thursday striking down the ban.

With the overturning of the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act in a 3-2 decision, abortions in the country will be permitted up until 20 weeks of gestation.

The law, which was banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat was detectable, which usually occurs around six weeks, did not go into effect until shortly after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision last summer although it was signed in February 2021.

The constitutionality of the law was challenged by South Carolina physicians Katherine Farris and Terry Buffkin, the Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, and the Greenville Women’s Clinic.

The South Carolina state government put forth the argument that the constitutional rights to privacy were limited by the absence of language mentioning bodily autonomy and medical care, but South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn rejected the argument along with Chief Justice Donald Beatty and Justice John Cannon Few, who concurred with her opinion.

Commenting on the court’s ruling, GOP Rep. Murrell Smith, the Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, said the South Carolina Supreme Court had created a constitutional right to an abortion where none exists.

Smith said that the court’s decision strips the citizens from having a say in a decision that was meant to reflect their voices and fails to respect the concept of separation of powers, leaving the state with a decision that is not reflective of its political process.

Calling the court’s decision rejection of an insidious attempt to take away South Carolinians’ fundamental rights under the constitution of the state, the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, applauded the ruling on Thursday with other reproductive rights activists.

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