South Carolina’s Supreme Court has reversed its previous stance on abortion by upholding a ban on most procedures after about six weeks of pregnancy.
The 4-1 ruling contrasts with the court’s earlier decision this year to strike down a similar law.
The shift in the court’s stance is attributed to the replacement of the lone female justice, Justice Kaye Hearn, with Justice Gary Hill.
The court’s new majority, led by Justice John Kittredge, acknowledged that the 2023 law encroaches on a woman’s right to privacy and bodily autonomy.
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However, they argued that the state legislature reasonably concluded that these interests do not outweigh “the interest of the unborn child to live.”
In January, the court, with Justice Hearn as the majority opinion writer, had struck down a similar abortion ban, citing a violation of the state constitution’s right to privacy.
However, Hearn reached the court’s mandatory retirement age, allowing the Republican-dominated legislature to replace her with Justice Hill.
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With the newly configured all-male Supreme Court, lawmakers passed a new abortion law in 2023, addressing concerns raised in the previous ruling. Specifically, the law aimed to address the court’s concerns about whether the restrictions on abortion were reasonable enough to infringe upon privacy rights while prioritizing the right to life.
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