By Brendan Pierson
(Reuters) – South Carolina’s Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a new state law banning abortion after fetal heart activity is detected, usually around six weeks of gestation, months after a similar ban was blocked.
In a 4-1 ruling, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution’s protections against “unreasonable invasions of privacy” did not include the right to abortion, and that the state law was “within the zone of reasonable policy decisions rationally related to the interest of the state in protecting the unborn.”
“With this win, we are protecting the lives of countless unborn children and reaffirming South Carolina’s place as one of the most pro-life states in America,” South Carolina Republican Governor Henry McMaster said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood, which had filed a lawsuit to challenge the law, did not immediately comment.
The state legislature passed the hotly contested bill in May, largely along party lines, with the notable exception of the five female members of the Senate — three Republicans, one Democrat and one independent — who all opposed it.
The new law came after the Supreme Court defeated an earlier abortion law by a 3-2 vote in January.
However, the author of that ruling, Judge Kaye Hearn, has since retired. The South Carolina Republican legislature in February replaced Hearn, the only woman on the five-member court, with Judge Garrison Hill, who voted to uphold the new law on Wednesday.
Justice John Few also changed his vote, finding that the new law addressed loopholes in the old by more fully explaining the rationale of the legislature and requiring health insurance to cover birth control.
Chief Justice Donald Beatty disagreed, saying the new law was essentially the same as the previous one the court struck down and that the court should have followed its previous findings.
“Today’s result will certainly weigh heavily on the public and medical professionals of our state, in light of the threat of criminal penalties for practitioners and the serious harm that could result for women who receive reproductive health care during this uncertainty. could be denied,” he wrote. .
(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)