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SC Supreme Court abortion ruling dominates opening week of General Assembly

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SC Judicial Branch
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Justices of the SC Supreme Court

A new two-year session of the General Assembly began this week, and as it got underway the overriding issue quickly became the same issue that ended last year’s session: abortion.

Last week the SC Supreme Court ruled the state’s six-week Fetal Heartbeat Law unconstitutional stating that it violated a woman’s right to privacy as provided by the state constitution. That left the previous 20-week abortion law in effect. The court’s decision didn’t sit well with the state’s conservative Republican leadership opening the door for another abortion debate, and lawmakers signaling they may also begin something they have long avoided, closer scrutiny of the judicial philosophy of potential Supreme Court justices.

The Court’s 3-to-2 decision was written by Associate Justice Kaye Hearn, the only female justice. Hearn is retiring from the court, and the legislature will elect her replacement next month.

Republican House Speaker Murrell Smith said this week the court decision will put more emphasis on next month’s election.

Russ McKinney has 30 years of experience in radio news and public affairs. He is a former broadcast news reporter in Spartanburg, Columbia and Atlanta. He served as Press Secretary to former S.C. Governor Dick Riley for two terms, and for 20 years was the chief public affairs officer for the University of South Carolina.