For the second time in 2023, the South Carolina state Supreme Court has weighed in on a fetal heartbeat ban. While they rejected the pro-life law in January, in August they found it to be constitutional and upheld its passage. The law now prevents abortions from being pursued after a baby’s heartbeat is detected, with exceptions made for cases of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in jeopardy.
According to The Hill, there are several differences in the case presented to the Supreme Court in August compared to the failed attempt in January, not least of all the retirement of Justice Kaye Hearn, who wrote the January 3-2 opinion. At the time, the court found that six weeks did not offer women enough time to determine one is pregnant and “take reasonable steps” if they chose to take the child’s life.
In the months after the January failure, The Hill reports, Republican lawmakers made several changes to the bill before presenting it again. These changes included modifying the definition of a clinically diagnosable pregnancy and clarifying this time around that contraceptives, including emergency contraceptives, would remain legal in the state.
In the August majority opinion, 4-1 this time, Justice John Kittredge wrote that the court could find no violations of the state constitution in the bill’s contents. Furthermore, the court determined that the life of the mother and child should both be equally considered in matters of abortion:
“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.
He went on to say that there is no lack of exceptions in place to protect the mother in cases of catastrophic failure to the pregnancy. They found that there is no “plausible argument or concrete situation” that would delay medical professionals from administering life-saving healthcare to mothers.
Governor Henry McMaster hailed the decision, stating:
“With this victory, we protect the lives of countless unborn children and reaffirm South Carolina’s place as one of the most pro-life states in America.”