South Carolina’s highest court upholds strict abortion ban

South Carolina’s highest court has upheld a strict abortion ban that would make virtually all abortions in the state illegal, even in cases of rape or incest.

The state Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday affirmed a 2019 abortion ban that would make it a felony to perform an abortion a doctor knew the woman was seeking due to learning the fetus’s gender, race, ancestry or Down Syndrome diagnosis.

The ban, which was blocked in state court last year, was originally part of a broader measure that prohibited abortions after a heartbeat was detected. That portion of the law had previously been struck down in federal court.

Women’s rights groups and health care providers had argued that the provisions of the law were “unconstitutional, unconscionable, medically unsound and irreconcilable with civilized standards of due process”. The South Carolina Supreme Court agreed that the law violated due process rights but argued that the restriction on abortions was permissible due to the state’s interest in protecting the unborn.

The law will take effect immediately unless blocked by a higher court.