ATLANTA – Yesterday the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state’s six-week abortion ban, finding that the ban violated the right to privacy under South Carolina’s constitution. The South Carolina Supreme Court determined that “few decisions in life are more private than the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy,” and that restricting abortion at six weeks – before many women even know they are pregnant – “leav[es] no room for many women to exercise that choice [and] prohibits certain South Carolinians from making their own medical decisions.” In its opinion, the court identified the right to privacy as fundamental, and it pointed to Georgia as one of the earliest states to recognize that foundational right.
Though not an issue decided by the court, the Chief Justice highlighted his conclusion that, in addition to violating the right to privacy, South Carolina’s ban is also void ab initio – void from the beginning – because it was unconstitutional at the time it was passed, at which point Roe was still the law of the land. This very issue is currently pending before the Georgia Supreme Court, following a determination by the Fulton County Superior Court that Georgia’s ban was unconstitutional when passed and therefore void.
The South Carolina Supreme Court’s decision recognizes that a six-week ban is an unlawful intrusion into women’s right to privacy, and points to the fact that the ban is also void ab initio. We look forward to the Georgia Supreme Court similarly recognizing that Georgia’s ban cannot stand under our state constitution.
The Court ruled in favor of the Plaintiff in Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. South Carolina. The ruling means abortions are legal in South Carolina until 20 weeks.
The Georgia Supreme Court granted an emergency stay of a lower court’s injunction on November 23, 2022, allowing a six-week abortion ban to take effect once again while the state’s appeal to SisterSong v. State of Georgia continues. The ban – which had been blocked just one week prior by the Superior Court of Fulton County – prohibits abortions from the earliest weeks of pregnancy, when many don’t yet know they are pregnant. Under the state’s previous law, abortions were legal until 20 weeks.
SisterSong v. State of Georgia was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Georgia-based law firms Caplan Cobb and Bondurant Mixson & Elmore on behalf of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Feminist Women’s Health Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Inc., Atlanta Comprehensive Wellness Clinic, Atlanta Women’s Medical Center, FemHealth USA d/b/a carafem, Summit Medical Associates, P.C., Carrie Cwiak, M.D., M.P.H., Lisa Haddad, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., Eva Lathrop, M.D., M.P.H., and Medical Students for Choice.