SC Supreme Court hears arguments for and against 6-week abortion ban
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Even though it was signed into law more than a year and a half ago, the Fetal Heartbeat Act is not in effect here in the Palmetto State.
Wednesday morning, the South Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides of the controversial law.
“We’re going to be here for a while,” said Justice John Cannon Few early in the day.
The plaintiff’s lawyer took the stand first, representing Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.
“There are certain bodily interests that are simply off-limits,” said attorney Julie Murray.
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic is part of a lawsuit against a 6-week abortion ban signed into law by Governor McMaster known as the Fetal Heartbeat Act.
“At that stage of pregnancy, there is no audible heartbeat. In fact, there is no heart at all,” Murray said. “Rather, there are electrical impulses that are only visible on ultrasound.”
Murray argued that the Fetal Heartbeat Act violates the state’s constitutional right to privacy.
“Whether it takes you 10 days or a month to figure that out, that’s a decision that should be left to women,” Murray said.
After Murray, the lawyer defending the Fetal Heartbeat Act took the stand.
“At it’s core, this is a separation of powers case,” said attorney Kevin Hall. “The only question in terms of privacy, which we have been devoting our time to, is Article 1 Section 10. What does it mean?”
Section 10 protects South Carolinians from searches and seizures as well as invasions of privacy. The two sides disagree on what that privacy includes.
“Do citizens of South Carolina have a right to privacy,” asked Justice John Kittredge.
“In the context of searches and seizures, yes,” Hall answered.
“I know Justice Few has expressed his views and I share them that South Carolinians do have a right to privacy,” said Justice Kaye Hearn. “You all do not think it extends to a woman’s decision to have an abortion? What does it extend to?”
Hearn also asked another question no one seemed to have the answer to in court.
“Why didn’t the general assembly put this to the people in a referendum? Wouldn’t that have been the best way to know what the people of South Carolina want on this issue,” Hearn asked.
Court adjourned early Wednesday afternoon. Now, both sides await a ruling.
Currently, abortion is banned in South Carolina after 20 weeks.