COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – A South Carolina ban on abortion after cardiac activity is no longer in effect after the latest legal challenge to the state’s 2021 law proved successful.

The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the restrictions violate the state’s constitution’s right to privacy. The measure banned abortion after cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy, with the exceptions of rape and incest or endangering the patient’s life.

“The State is unquestionably entitled to limit the right to privacy that protects women from State interference in their decisions, but any such limit must be reasonable and must be meaningful so that within the time limit imposed a woman sufficient time to determine that she is pregnant and take reasonable steps to terminate that pregnancy. Six weeks, quite simply, is not a reasonable amount of time for these two things to happen, and so the Act is subject to privacy violates our state constitution’s prohibition against unwarranted invasion,” Justice Kaye Hearn wrote in the majority opinion.

South Carolina has banned abortion at 20 weeks.

The decision comes nearly two years after Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed the measure into law. The ban attracted lawsuits almost immediately. Since then, legal challenges have made their way through both state and federal courts. The separate orders have given supporters and opponents of the law cause for both celebration and frustration. Abortion seekers in the state have seen the legal window expanded to the previous limit of 20 weeks, before returning to the latest restrictions and back again.

Federal courts had previously suspended the law. But the US Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade allowed the restrictions to remain in place—only for a brief period. state supreme court temporarily blocked it Last August, the judges considered a new challenge.

The landmark High Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization started a flurry of activity at the state level. Republican-dominated states moved forward with new restrictions, while abortion rights advocates called for additional safeguards. With federal abortion protections ending, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic sued in july Under the right to privacy of the South Carolina Constitution. Meanwhile, other states have seen Challenging Restrictions on Religious Freedom,

In South Carolina, attorneys representing the state legislature have argued that the right to privacy should be interpreted narrowly. during oral argument last October, he argued that the historical context shows that lawmakers intended to protect against search and seizure when ratifying the authority in 1971. Planned Parenthood lawyers representing the challengers have said that the right to privacy covers abortion. He argued that previous state Supreme Court rulings had already extended the right to bodily autonomy.

The judges’ limited ruling left the door open for future changes. The State House and Senate failed to agree on additional restrictions during last summer’s special session on abortion. Still, a small but growing group of conservative lawmakers have vowed to push that envelope once again this legislative session — despite the urgings of some Republican leaders that no compromise is possible.

James Pollard is a core member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues.

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