COLUMBIA, S.C. — In a unanimous decision, the South Carolina Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the state’s six-week abortion ban.
The six-page order was signed Wednesday by all five sitting justices.
The order means that for the time being as litigation continues, the state’s abortion clinics can proceed with abortion procedures up until 20 weeks of pregnancy, which was state law prior to the Legislature passing the six-week ban last year.
Gov. Henry McMaster and Attorney General Alan Wilson said they will continue to defend the six-week law.
In a statement, McMaster’s spokesman Brian Symmes said, in part, “we’re confident that we will prevail in state court.”
In their order blocking the law, the state’s Supreme Court justices said that although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June there is no right to privacy in the federal Constitution, it is an “arguably close question” whether South Carolina’s own Constitution affords some right to privacy that may affect state laws concerning abortion.
“At this preliminary stage, we are unable to determine with finality of the (six-week abortion) Act under our state’s constitutional prohibition against unreasonable invasions of privacy,” the justices wrote. In the ruling, the justices referred to a section in the state’s Constitution that says that “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 court’s order set forth a schedule whereby each side in the case — abortion providers and various state government officials — would file briefs with the court.
“While we are disappointed, it’s important to point out this is a temporary injunction,” Wilson said in a statement. “The court didn’t rule on the constitutionality of the Fetal Heartbeat law. We will continue to defend the law.”
The unanimous decision Wednesday by the South Carolina Supreme Court comes as the Legislature considers a more restrictive abortion ban after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.