1 of 3 | South Carolina’s Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, which would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, is unconstitutional according to the state’s Supreme Court. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 5 (UPI) -- South Carolina's Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, which would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, is unconstitutional according to the state's Supreme Court.
The bill passed into law less than a year ago and was activated after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Thursday's 3-2 court ruling strikes the law down, maintaining the right to an abortion up to 22 weeks into pregnancy.
The court determined that the law violated the state's constitution because of a provision that references a citizen's right to privacy, which does not appear in the U.S. Constitution.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures and unreasonable invasions of privacy shall not be violated," the state constitution reads.
The state argued that the provision only refers to "criminal defendants" in relation to the Fourth Amendment, searches and seizures, the court said in its opinion.
The court dismissed this argument, stating that it applies to women's privacy in healthcare regardless of if it is plainly stated.
in her written ruling, Justice Kaye Hearn said a woman must be given the time to learn of her pregnancy and make a decision about whether or not to terminate it, which six weeks does not allow.
"[I]n order to make an informed choice about whether to continue a pregnancy, a pregnant woman has a legitimate interest in knowing the likelihood of the human fetus surviving to full-term birth based upon the presence of a fetal heartbeat," South Carolina's General Assembly wrote.
"It is immediately apparent that this finding ties a woman's decision to continue a pregnancy with the likelihood that a fetus will survive to term," Hearn wrote.
"Indeed, the language itself overtly characterizes the decision as an informed choice. Thus, whether women know they are pregnant by the time the Act prohibits most abortions and have a meaningful opportunity to decide whether to abort or to carry the pregnancy to full term, is unequivocally relevant to question before us."
Chief Justice Don Beatty and Justice John Cannon Few ruled with Hearn in striking down the law. Justices George James Jr. and John Kittredge cast dissenting decisions.
House Speaker Murrell Smith said the court created "a constitutional right to an abortion where none exists."
Women attend a candlelight vigil in Washington on June 26, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, ending federal abortion protections. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo