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COLUMBIA, South Carolina (LifeSiteNews) – The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state’s abortion-restricting Fetal Heartbeat Act on Thursday, declaring that the law infringed upon the “right to privacy.”

The act, which banned abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at about six weeks gestation, was signed into law by Governor Henry McMaster in 2021, but did not take effect until the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

The law was subsequently challenged by the state’s abortionists, Planned Parenthood and Greenville Women’s Clinic, and the state Supreme Court then temporarily blocked it until it could rule on its constitutionality.

Justice Kaye Hearn wrote on behalf of the 3-2 state Supreme Court majority that “Six weeks is, quite simply, not a reasonable period of time” for a woman to know she is pregnant and make the decision to have an abortion.

Hearn framed the issue in terms of limiting a “right to privacy,” and not a “right to life.”

“The State unquestionably has the authority to limit the right of privacy that protects women from state interference with her decision, but any such limitation must be reasonable and it must be meaningful in that the time frames imposed must afford a woman sufficient time to determine she is pregnant and to take reasonable steps to terminate that pregnancy,” wrote Hearn.

She concluded that because the Fetal Heartbeat Act did not allow a woman such “sufficient time” to decide whether to have an abortion, that the law “violates our state Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable invasions of privacy.”

Gov. Henry McMaster has since vowed efforts to work with the state legislature to fight the court’s ruling.

“Our State Supreme Court has found a right in our Constitution which was never intended by the people of South Carolina. With this opinion, the Court has clearly exceeded its authority. The people have spoken through their elected representatives multiple times on this issue,”  tweeted Gov. Henry McMaster Thursday.

I look forward to working with the General Assembly to correct this error,” McMaster added.

Lisa Van Riper, president of South Carolina Citizens for Life, slammed the decision, saying, “We are beyond disappointed in the South Carolina Supreme Court’s decision. The court ruled in favor of the economic interests of the abortion industry whose primary source of income is killing unborn children.”

Kevin Hall, a lawyer representing the state Legislature, pointed out during prior hearings on the heartbeat law that regarding the right to privacy, abortion differs from medical treatments because it involves the interests of not just the mother, but of “the life of the unborn,” the Associated Press reported.

A 2022 Fall Trafalar Group poll has found that in addition to the 41 percent of South Carolina respondents who want state abortions wholly banned except when the life of the mother is endangered, or in cases of babies conceived in rape or incest, 19.7 percent believe abortions should be banned after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

With the heartbeat law struck down, abortion is now only banned in South Carolina after 20 weeks of pregnancy.