In the latest attack on abortion access, South Carolina joins a long list of states who have attempted to pass legislation or set up obstacles for individuals trying to access abortion services.
Last week, South Carolina Governor Henry McMasters signed an executive order that bans funding of any non-profit organization or practitioner that offers abortion services. The executive order bars the funding of abortion providers by state and local resources and will undoubtedly limit the number of people who will receive abortion procedures or preventative care at these facilities. According to many reproductive rights advocates, this executive order is a pointed attack on Planned Parenthood, which has three clinics in the state. The Los Angeles Times reports that Governor McMasters said in a statement that “taxpayer dollars must not directly or indirectly subsidize abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.”
Governor McMaster’s executive order follows the most recent rollback on Title X funding protections by the Trump Administration. After Trump’s inauguration, the House and Senate, using the Congressional Review Act, repealed a rule put in place by the Obama administration in December that blocked states from cutting off Title X funding to women’s health clinics that provide abortion services.
Title X of the Public Health Services Act is the only federal domestic program that is exclusively concerned with providing funds for family planning and reproductive health services. Title X funding is awarded through competitive grants to whichever healthcare providers prove they are best qualified for meeting the needs of the communities they serve. By passing the measure to gut Title X funding protections, the federal government has once again opened the doors to allow states to bar women’s healthcare providers from funds that pay for STI/STD treatments and birth control, not because they are unqualified providers, but because they also happen to offer abortion services through non-governmental funding.
This is not South Carolina’s first attempt to limit access to abortion services. In 2016, a South Carolina State Senator proposed a “personhood amendment” which would have effectively outlawed not only abortions but also emergency contraception, IUDs and birth control pills. The bill failed to get the necessary number of votes to be included on the Senate agenda before the summer 2016 recess. However, earlier in the same year, South Carolina lawmakers passed a bill that was signed into law by then Governor Nikki Haley that banned abortions after 20 weeks.
Earlier this month, Texas lawmakers passed a bill to further restrict abortion access in the state. House Bill 214 was given early approval by the Texas State Senate during a 30-day special session called by Governor Gregg Abbot in July. The bill bans all private health insurance plans and plans sold through the Affordable Care Act marketplace from covering abortion care unless the life of the woman is directly at risk. Instead, women would be required to buy supplemental insurance should they ever think they may need or want an abortion.
Media Resources: Los Angeles Times 8/27/17; Reuters 8/25/17; Washington Examiner 8/25/17; Feminist Newswire 7/6/16, 3/31/17, 6/9/14, 8/17/17