COLUMBIA, S.C. — Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit challenging a South Carolina executive order barring Medicaid funds from going toward any health services at abortion businesses.
The executive order, issued last month by Gov. Henry McMaster, has drawn support from pro-life advocates.
“We commend Gov. McMaster for not only keeping his promise to protect innocent human life in South Carolina, but also keeping his promise to taxpayers of South Carolina, who should not be forced to fund agencies that destroy human life,” said Lisa Van Riper, president of South Carolina Citizens for Life, according to National Right to Life News Today.
McMaster’s July 2018 executive order said the state “should not contract with abortion clinics for family-planning services.”
It told the state’s Medicaid agency to use money left over from last year’s budget on the state’s family-planning program, but deemed abortion clinics and any affiliated physicians or medical practices enrolled in Medicaid to be unqualified for the funds. The agency must terminate these clinics and deny any future enrollment applications from such providers, the order said.
In early July, McMaster vetoed about $16 million from South Carolina’s budget for fiscal year 2018-19 in order to defund the local affiliates of the United States’ largest performer of abortions, the South Carolina news site The State reports. In the last two years, less than $85,000 in Medicaid reimbursements went to Planned Parenthood, out of $42 million in reimbursements in the state. These moneys funded Planned Parenthood birth control and sexually transmitted disease testing.
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and one of its patients filed suit in U.S. district court July 28, saying the executive order would block patients from accessing “preventive health care services” at Planned Parenthood in South Carolina.
Planned Parenthood argued that federal law bars states from interfering with Medicaid patients’ access to “the qualified provider of their choice.” It said the state’s two Planned Parenthood health centers are in areas that have been federally designated as having a provider shortage.
Brian Symmes, a spokesman for the governor, told The State newspaper July 27 that the governor will “fight this lawsuit with everything he has.”
“Like millions of South Carolinians, he believes in the fundamental right to life for unborn children and does not believe tax dollars should go to organizations that perform elective abortions,” Symmes said.
Holly Gatling, executive director of South Carolina Citizens for Life, rejected claims that poor women must rely on Planned Parenthood for health care.
“There are numerous health clinics throughout South Carolina that offer high quality, comprehensive health care to women of childbearing age without peddling abortion as just another means of birth control.”