A court in the southeastern United States rejected the so-called South Carolina’s the “fetal heartbeat” lawBanning abortion as early as the sixth week of pregnancy.
The South Carolina Supreme Court issued a decision on Thursday, calling the ban an “unreasonable restriction” that “violates women’s constitutional right to privacy.”
The law was overturned in a narrow three-to-two vote, with a majority on the plaintiffs side: two South Carolina doctors, a Greenville women’s clinic and the care nonprofit Planned Parenthood health care.
“This is a monumental victory for the legal abortion movement in the South,” the nonprofit’s South Atlantic branch said on Twitter. “We, like our partners, will continue to fight to block any bill that would allow politicians to interfere in people’s private healthcare decisions.”
Meanwhile, the Republican governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, criticized the decision as a violation of justice, saying the ruling went against the will of voters in the Indian-majority state.
“Our State Supreme Court found a right in our Constitution that the people of South Carolina never intended. With this opinion, the Court has clearly exceeded its jurisdiction,” he wrote on Twitter.
South Carolina’s Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act was originally passed in February 2021, with Republicans hailing the bill as a “huge victory” for the child they consider a “fetus”.
“If this were upheld by the courts, we would save thousands of lives in South Carolina every year,” said Shane Massey, majority leader in the state Senate.
The law requires patients who want to have an abortion to undergo an ultrasound to detect what the law calls a “fetal heartbeat.” If such activity is detected, the abortion cannot proceed, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the parents.
However, doctors and abortion rights advocates have disputed terms such as “fetal heartbeat,” saying that the vibrations recorded during an ultrasound during the first weeks of pregnancy are not is the heartbeat which is the electrical activity in the cells that will eventually become heart tissue.
They also show that electrical impulses can be detected as early as six weeks, before many people realize they are pregnant. That rationale was outlined in the South Carolina Supreme Court decision Thursday.
“Six weeks, quite simply, is not a reasonable amount of time,” the majority of the courts wrote in their view, citing the time it takes for parents to realize they are pregnant and take action to prevent pregnancy. guarantee abortion. It describes the ban as an “unreasonable invasion of privacy”.
But the verdict is narrow. The majority opinion implies that the state can still impose restrictions on access to abortion, to the extent that it is protected under the state’s privacy rights.
The ruling explains: “There is no doubt that the State has the authority to limit privacy in order to protect a woman from state interference in her decisions.
South Carolina continues to have a separate 20-week abortion ban in fact, a state law predates the fetal heart rate act.
The original six-week ban faced a series of legal challenges after signed into law in 2021 by Governor McMaster, who predicted defending the law would be “an uphill battle.” One judge suspends restraining order on the second day of its entry into force.
States like Georgia, Ohio and Iowa have also tried to enact their own “fetal heart rate” laws, but they have also faced legal challenges. In November, Georgia State Supreme Court Vote to reinstate the “fetal heartbeat” law while they consider a lower court ruling overturning the ban, prompting some advocates to call the matter “legal ping pong”.
Republican support for such bans prompted attorneys general from 21 states — including Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Montana and Texas — to file an amicus brief in support of South Carolina’s law in March 2022.
But the landscape of abortion access in the United States changed in June, when the US Supreme Court decision to overturn The landmark precedent was set in 1973 Roe v Wade, effectively ending the constitutional right to access abortion at the federal level.
The decision of the US Supreme Court – in a case called Dobbs Women’s Health Organization v. Jackson – raises questions about abortion rights are back in the hands of the state.
Days after the Dobbs decision was made, on June 27 of last year, South Carolina’s six-week ban went into effect again.
“Once Roe v Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court,” State Attorney General Alan Wilson explained at the time, “there was no longer any basis for stopping South Carolina’s Heartbeat Law.”
The South Atlantic chapter of Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit the following month, arguing that the ban violated the state constitution. But the attorneys for the state of South Carolina argue that the right to privacy is intended to protect against illegal “search and seizure” and does not apply to abortions.
The South Carolina Supreme Court is considered the first court to make a final judgment on the constitutionality of abortion under state law in the months following Dobbs’ decision.
As a result, its Thursday decision drew national attention, including from the administration of US President Joe Biden, a Democrat.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wrote on Twitter: “Today, we are encouraged by the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling on the state’s extreme and dangerous abortion ban. “Women should have the right to make their own decisions about their bodies.”
But US Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican representing South Carolina, denounced the decision as “judicial activism”. He once supported a Ban on abortion at 15 weeks nationwide.
“It is hard for me to believe that the drafters of the South Carolina Constitution intended to introduce any provision to prevent elected officials from passing infant protection legislation,” he wrote Thursday.