Planned Parenthood was dealt a new blow in South Carolina on August 25 with the issuance of a new executive order by Republican governor Henry McMaster. The order dictates that state agencies stop providing public (taxpayer) funds to any medical clinic providing abortions.
The state has also requested a waiver from the federal government to remove abortion clinics from the Medicaid provider network. According to The Post and Courier, a Charleston newspaper, South Carolina has only three clinics in the entire state that perform elective abortions, and only one is run by Planned Parenthood.
One argument frequently used by Planned Parenthood is that if their clinics close down, women will have nowhere else to turn, but that is not the case, at least in South Carolina. In that state, non-abortion clinics offering comprehensive health care services outnumber Planned Parenthood’s clinics by 134 to 1, according to the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. “There are a variety of agencies, clinics, and medical entities in South Carolina that receive taxpayer funding to offer important women’s health and family planning services without performing abortions,” McMaster said. As part of the executive order, the governor called for compilation of a list of non-abortion clinics within 25 miles of the abortion clinics, to direct women toward clinics that can provide women’s health services, including family planning.
McMaster issued the executive order, saying that South Carolina residents feel strongly that “taxpayer dollars must not directly or indirectly subsidize abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.”
Planned Parenthood’s (PP) serves 5 million female patients per year, and as such, claims to be America’s largest provider of reproductive health services. These services vary among the 650 nationwide health centers. Planned Parenthood says that only 3 percent of its services are abortion-related; that equated to 324,000 abortions in 2014. Nearly one million emergency contraception kits (a.k.a the “morning after pill”) were also provided by Planned Parenthood that same year. Although the organization puts emergency contraception into a different category than abortion, and accounts for it differently, many Americans also consider the morning after pill to be a form of abortion.
The vast majority of patients seen by Planned Parenthood are low income women aged 20 or older. Planned Parenthood contends that its primary function is prevention and that the majority of patients receive contraception to prevent pregnancy. The organization also provides pregnancy tests, vasectomies, pap smears and breast exams.
South Carolina Planned Parenthood spokesperson Vicki Ringer criticized McMaster shortly after he issued the executive order, calling it a “political stunt to score political points”. Ringer said that her agency in South Carolina will continue to “focus on providing the wide-range of accessible, affordable health care services that our patients, and his constituents, rely on.”
The governor’s order is in line with actions from 12 other states who have decided to end public funding of abortion. These states enacted their legislation following President Trump’s issuance of an executive order in April allowing states to decide whether to provide public funding to abortion clinics