Four of the court’s five justices are registered Republicans, while Chief Justice Donald Beatty is a Democrat, and all were appointed by the Republican-controlled legislature.

“Our decision today is neither ‘pro-choice’ nor ‘pro-life’; It simply holds that our state constitution grants every South Carolinian the right to privacy, equal protection and due process of the laws,” Beatty wrote in a concurring note. “This fundamental, constitutional mandate is beyond politics and opinion.”

South Carolina is the first state high court to find a state-level constitutional right to abortion since the fall of the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade, Similar challenges are pending in Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

“It’s certainly disappointing. It violates the legislature’s job of making laws,” said state Representative John McCrevey, a Republican who last year spearheaded an effort to expand abortion restrictions in South Carolina. Importantly, it allows the killing of innocent children to continue while all this debate goes on.”

South Carolina’s privacy clause, adopted in 1971, states that people “have the right to be protected against unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons, houses, papers, and effects and unwarranted invasions of privacy.”

During oral arguments in October, attorneys representing the state’s abortion clinics argued that the confidentiality clause should be interpreted broadly to protect abortion rights.

“We would submit that there are few choices for the course of women’s lives that are as significant as the decision to have an abortion or to give birth,” Julie Murray, a lawyer for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told the court.

Lawyers representing the state argued for a narrower right to privacy.

“At the end of the day, my friends, the petitioners, on the other hand, bear the burden to show that privacy falls under this language, and they cannot,” said Henry Lambert, senior attorney for Republican Gov. Henry McMaster.

The state’s abortion ban – which prevents abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected around six weeks of pregnancy – has been blocked since August while the state Supreme Court takes up a legal challenge against it.

South Carolina lawmakers failed to pass a new ban this summer that would have barred nearly all abortions that begin at conception. While the House passed such a ban, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and life-threatening cases, moderate Republicans joined with Democrats in the Senate to support that resolution, with the chamber instead allowing the existing six-week ban. passed an amended version of the ban.

legislators have already introduced a bill A ban on abortion from conception will be considered during the upcoming legislative session. McCrevey said he still plans to push for passage of that bill when lawmakers begin their session on Tuesday.

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