South Carolina Supreme Court upholds ban on abortion after six weeks

The state's pro-abortion community challenged the new law in court as soon as the governor signed it, as with the previous law. This time it was not successful.

The South Carolina Supreme Court changed its stance on abortion Wednesday, upholding the ban on most procedures after six weeks of pregnancy. There was only one vote against of the five that make up the panel of judges.

The law, signed this spring by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, bans abortions after an ultrasound detects heart activity, which typically occurs around six weeks. According to the ruling, the law itself is not unconstitutional. This legislation comes after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which supported abortion at the federal level.

New law, new ruling

In January, South Carolina's state legislature passed a very similar law, which the Supreme Court struck down by a 3-2 vote and after saying the law violated the right to privacy. The panel of judges that voted on this law was different. Judge Kaye Hearn stepped down upon reaching mandatory retirement age and was replaced by a new judge.

“The legislature has made a policy determination that … a woman’s interest in autonomy and privacy does not outweigh the interest of the unborn child to live,” Justice Kittredge wrote in his decision, which was accessed by The Hill. “We cannot say as a matter of law that the 2023 Act is unreasonable and thus violates the state constitution.”

The action against the new law was filed by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, a South Carolina clinic, as well as two doctors almost immediately after the pro-life law was signed by Governor McMaster.

They argued that the ban was essentially the same as the one the court ruled against in January and that there was nothing that had happened in the meantime that would allow the state to pass it again. The judges did not agree, ruling that the new law had sufficient changes to be worthy of a new assessment.

Henry McMaster posted a message via X, formerly Twitter, to congratulate the decision of the court. “The Supreme Court’s ruling marks a historic moment in our state’s history and is the culmination of years of hard work and determination by so many in our state to ensure that the sanctity of life is protected,” he said.