NEW YORK – After the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld a law that restricts most abortions once a heartbeat can be detected – about six weeks into a pregnancy – the state’s Catholic conference said it’s grateful for the decision, and vows to continue advocacy for mothers and their children.

“We are grateful that our state Supreme Court chose to uphold the dignity of all human persons, especially those who cannot speak for themselves,” Michael Acquilano, director of the South Carolina Catholic Conference said in an Aug. 23 statement.

“We will continue to work for the safety and protection of all mothers and their children, and we recommit to the Catholic Church’s unwavering belief that all life is sacred – from conception to natural death,” Acquilano said.

The South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act by a 4-1 vote on Aug. 23. The decision departs from the state’s high court decision to strike down a similar ban in January, essentially because they said it violated a state constitutional right to privacy.

The new law that the court just upheld isn’t much different. However, this time around, in writing for the majority Justice John Kittredge explained that the “interest of the unborn child to live” outweighs the privacy concerns that still exist in the new law.

In the lone dissent, Chief Justice Donald Beatty raised concerns about the law’s potential lack of clarity, explaining that the verbiage makes it generally unclear when the ban begins, which exposes doctors to criminal charges if law enforcement officials disagree with their judgment.

Governor Henry McMaster called the ruling a “historic moment” for the state.

“[The ruling] is the culmination of years of hard work and determination by so many in our state to ensure that the sanctity of life is protected,” McMaster said in an Aug. 23 statement. “With this victory, we protect the lives of countless unborn children and reaffirm South Carolina’s place as one of the most pro-life states in America.”

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic’s president, Jenny Black, released a statement on X in reaction to the ruling.

“This abortion ban takes away people’s ability to control what happens to their bodies, forcing many South Carolinians to remain pregnant against their will,” she said in the statement.

Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg