The Idaho and South Carolina State Supreme Courts made opposing rulings on two similar abortion bills, a scenario that is only possible because of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. In Idaho, justices upheld a nearly total ban, while justices in South Carolina struck down a heartbeat bill.
The Idaho Supreme Court upheld a near total abortion ban that makes exceptions for rape, incest and saving the life of the mother. In the 3-2 decision, the justices said the Idaho Constitution does not contain an explicit right to an abortion.
The majority noted its decision was based on the original text of the state’s constitution and the framers’ intent. Therefore, the majority said, the inalienable rights clause in Article 1, Section 1 of the state’s constitution was meant by the state’s framers and adopters to protect the rights to life, liberty and property. The majority also wrote that it was only ruling on the law’s constitutionality and not making a statement as to whether it is wise policy.
The petitioner, Planned Parenthood, said it will continue helping women in Idaho access abortion care in the wake of the decision.
“Idahoans deserve better than this. Everyone should have access to safe, legal abortion care. If you need an abortion, please don’t hesitate to contact us for support,” Planned Parenthood Great Northwest President and CEO Rebecca Gibron tweeted.
The Susan B. Anthony pro-life America organization, which tracks pro-life legislation around the country, celebrated the decision.
“Protecting unborn children and their mothers has been Idaho’s policy for decades, and with one of the strongest pro-life laws in the country, the Gem State is poised to save thousands of lives a year,” SBA President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.
In South Carolina, the state supreme court struck down a six week abortion ban known as a heartbeat bill. The 3-2 decision states the law that banned abortions after cardiac activity is detected violates the state’s constitutional right to privacy.
The justices wrote that the state does have the authority to curtail abortion but needs to give pregnant women time to determine they are pregnant and then take steps to terminate the pregnancy if they desire. The justices wrote six weeks is not enough time for that to happen. A twenty week abortion ban in South Carolina will remain in effect.
“We are deeply disappointed the South Carolina Supreme Court sided with the radical abortion lobby and its nonexistent ‘right’ to commit abortion violence against unborn babies with beating hearts. The abortion industry continues to run to the courts to impose their agenda knowing that the people do not support their extreme policies,” Dannenfelser said.
Planned Parenthood called the decision a “monumental victory” in its movement to protect legal abortion in the South.
“Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and our partners will continue our fight to block any bill that allows politicians to interfere in people’s private healthcare decisions,” Planned Parenthood South Atlantic President and CEO Jenny Black said in a statement.
Before the Dobbs decision, both of these laws would have been ruled unconstitutional under the precedent set by Roe v. Wade. But after the Supreme Court sent abortion policy decisions back to the states, differing opinions like these became possible.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.