South Carolina’s newly all-male conservative Supreme Court reversed its prior ruling on Wednesday, finding the state’s strict six-week abortion ban is constitutional.
“Writing for the new majority, Justice John Kittredge acknowledged that the 2023 law,” which bans abortion at six weeks, the Associated Press reports, “infringes on ‘a woman’s right of privacy and bodily autonomy,’ but said the state legislature reasonably determined this time around that those interests don’t outweigh ‘the interest of the unborn child to live.'”
In January, justices on South Carolina’s Supreme Court had ruled the state’s ban on abortion was unconstitutional because it violated the right to privacy.
In February, the court’s only woman justice retired, making South Carolina the only state in the nation with an all-male Supreme Court.
The Associated Press at the time called it “a development that comes amid increasing Republican scrutiny of the court that narrowly struck down the conservative state’s abortion ban last month.”
“The Republican-led Legislature chose Judge Gary Hill to replace the high court’s lone female justice, Kaye Hearn, who had reached the court’s retirement age and who wrote the leading opinion in the 3-2 ruling overturning the state’s 2021 abortion ban,” the AP noted. “Hill was the only candidate for the position remaining after two female candidates, Judges Stephanie McDonald and Aphrodite Konduros, dropped out on Jan. 17, which was the day candidates could begin seeking legislators’ support. Although nominees have previously left such races when they decided they lacked the votes, the departures have not often happened so swiftly.”
In May, South Carolina Republican Governor Henry McMaster signed a new six-week abortion ban into law “without any notice, which had left dozens of people seeking abortions in limbo and created the potential for a legal abortion becoming illegal as a doctor performed it,” NBC News had reported.
A judge had placed a temporary hold on the law, allowing the state’s Supreme Court to review it in June.
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