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South Carolina Supreme Court Declines to Rehear Heartbeat Decision

by | Aug 30, 2023

By Holly Gatling, Executive Director, South Carolina Citizens for Life

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Tuesday, August 29, 2023) – The South Carolina Supreme Court rejected Planned Parenthood’s petition to reconsider its 4-1 decision upholding the 2023 Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act issued on August 23.

Planned Parenthood petitioned for a re-hearing on the grounds that the definition of a fetal heartbeat was ambiguous and should be identified only when the heart has developed four chambers by the 17th to 20th week of pregnancy. The law states the child is protected from abortion as soon as the heartbeat can be detected after fertilization, usually by the sixth week of
pregnancy.

In a two-sentence statement the justices wrote, “After careful consideration of the petition for rehearing, the Court is unable to discover that any material fact or principle of law has been either overlooked or disregarded. The petition for rehearing is therefore denied.”

The order was signed by Justice John Kittredge, Justice John Few, Justice George James, Jr., and Justice Garrison Hill, all of whom upheld the law last week. Chief Justice Donald Beatty was the lone dissenter as he was on the original opinion. He said he would grant the abortion industry’s request.

State Attorney General Alan Wilson, whose office defended the law, said, “as we have always argued and maintained, the constitutional right to privacy does not apply to abortion. The right to life is foremost and absolutely must be protected and prioritized. We’re pleased with the court’s decision to deny a petition to rehear this case. I believe this decision will have a long-lasting positive impact on the future of our state, and I am honored our office was able to fight for the unborn and defend the rule of law.”

Since the August 23 decision, abortions have declined in South Carolina by 70 percent, down from 180 per week. Health officials estimated up to 50 percent of the abortions prior to the August 23 decision were performed on out-of-state women because law protecting the unborn were stronger in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Categories: State Legislation