COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — The United States Supreme Court began hearing arguments Wednesday in a Mississippi abortion case that could impact nearly half the United States with similar legislation.
In February, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a fetal heartbeat bill into law. This would make it illegal for a woman to get an abortion once a heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs near the six-week mark.
However, on the same day it was filed into law, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against it, and a judge ruled that abortions could continue past the six-week mark until a formal hearing on the matter.
The Supreme Court will decide this week whether it is constitutional for the state of Mississippi to ban abortions after 15-weeks.
The decision will impact nearly 25 states, including South Carolina, that have similar legislation because if the court sides with the state of Mississippi, the power to restrict abortions returns to individual states, not the federal government.
“The constitution provides the guarantee of liberty,” Julie Rikelman, the litigation director for the Center for Reproductive Rights said. “The court has interpreted that liberty to include the ability to make decisions related to childbearing, marriage, and family. Women have an equal right to liberty in the constitution, your honor. If they are not able to make this decision, if states can take control of women’s bodies and force them to endure months of pregnancy and childbirth, then they will never have equal status under the constitution.”
Darlington and Florence County Rep. Robert Williams told News13 on Wednesday that South Carolina is in the same position as several other states.
“We’re dealing with this on a large scale,” he said.
Williams, who voted against South Carolina’s fetal heartbeat bill, said he hopes the court will come down with language that, “does not transform or change the way Roe vs. Wade has been set up.”
Roe v. Wade was a 1973 landmark court decision that ruled that the U.S. Constitution protected a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion; it has since been the marker for all abortion-related laws in the country.
Another landmark case that shaped U.S. reproductive legislation is Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe v. Wade, and some of the state of Pennsylvania’s provisions.