National News

South Carolina Supreme Court Upholds State’s 6-Week Abortion Ban

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is pictured in Columbia Nov. 3, 2020. The South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the state’s six-week abortion ban in a 4-1 ruling Aug. 23, 2023, ruling, lifting a previous freeze on the law implemented shortly after McMaster signed the legislation into law in May. (Photo: OSV News/Sam Wolfe, Reuters)

By Kate Scanlon

(OSV News) — The South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the state’s six-week abortion ban in an Aug. 23 ruling, permitting that law to go into effect.

The 4-1 ruling lifts a previous freeze on the law implemented amid a legal challenge shortly after Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed the legislation in May.

In an opinion for the majority, Justice John Kittredge wrote that “the legislature has found that the State has a compelling interest in protecting the lives of unborn children,” and that it would be “a rogue imposition of will by the judiciary for us to say that the legislature’s determination is unreasonable as a matter of law.”

The ruling finding the 2023 law constitutional comes just months after the same court found a similar law unconstitutional in a January ruling.

Justice John Cannon Few, who found the previous ban unconstitutional but the 2023 version constitutional, acknowledged that some might note that change, but argued he saw a difference in the legal substance of each of those pieces of legislation.

“Planned Parenthood argues the 2023 Act is no different from the 2021 Act because both ban most abortions at same point in time,” Few wrote, adding, “Thus, Planned Parenthood argues simplistically, my vote should be the same” as it was in the previous case.

Writing that he stands by his previous findings in the other case, Few argued, “Ultimately, the General Assembly did not attempt to simply re-enact the same legislation, as Planned Parenthood argues,” instead amending the 2021 Act “in what appears to be a sincere attempt to comply” with the high court’s ruling in the previous case.

McMaster said in a statement that the 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.”

“With this victory, we protect the lives of countless unborn children,” he added.

In a statement, Jenny Black, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, which includes South Carolina, said that “this abortion ban takes away people’s ability to control what happens to their bodies, forcing many South Carolinians to remain pregnant against their will.”

Michael F. Acquilano, director of the South Carolina Catholic Conference, told OSV News in an email the organization is “grateful that our state Supreme Court chose to uphold the dignity of all human persons, especially those who cannot speak for themselves.”

“We will continue to work for the safety and protection of all mothers and their children, and we recommit to the Catholic Church’s unwavering belief that all life is sacred — from conception to natural death,” Acquilano said.

Lisa Van Riper, president of South Carolina Citizens for Life, said in a statement that the ruling “restores protection for all human beings with a detectable heartbeat.”

“By upholding the Heartbeat bill the majority of the SC Supreme Court has affirmed that the General Assembly and Governor Henry McMaster acted within their power to carry out their most basic governmental responsibility of protecting a human being’s right to life,” she said.

“South Carolina Citizens for Life commends the SC Carolina Supreme Court, the General Assembly, the Governor and Attorney General Alan Wilson for their work to protect the least among us from the barbaric practice of abortion on demand after the unborn child has a heartbeat,” Van Riper said. “It is time for all of South Carolina to embrace life and to move to meet the needs of its mothers and children with compassionate care.”

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