South Carolina House Passes Bill Banning State Coverage of Most Abortions

In the early morning on Thursday the South Carolina House approved an amendment to the state budget that would ban state insurance policies from covering abortions except to save the life of the mother. The budget proposal submitted by Gov. Mark Sandford, similar to the proposal from the previous year, allowed for state health insurance policies to pay for abortions in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. The vote on Thursday was a reversal from a Tuesday vote where an amendment proposing such restrictions had failed.

Jessica Bearden is the director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems, which covers North Carolina, South Carolina and parts of Virginia and West Virginia. Bearden said that the original amendment sponsored by Republican Representative Rex Rice would have imposed a total ban on coverage by the state health insurance plan of all abortions, including those performed to save the life of the mother.

“[Rep. Rice] was talking like those kinds of procedures cost $350, and why can’t women just pay for them out of pocket. But most abortions done to save the life of the mother you are talking about something done at a hospital and those cost thousands of dollars,” Bearden said. “So we educated him.”

Bearden said by the time the amendment came to a floor vote on Tuesday Rice was willing to include an exception to save the life of the mother, but not in cases where an abortion is performed in cases of rape or incest. The amendment failed in a 57-54 vote on late Tuesday. However Bearden said that on Wednesday anti-choice groups managed to exert pressure on some of the Republican representatives who had voted against the amendment and reopened debate on the amendment.

After four hours of debate the House passed the amendment at 5 a.m. on Thursday in a vote of 75-38.

The amendment reads:

No funds appropriated for employer contributions to the State Health Insurance Plan may be expended to reimburse the expenses of an abortion except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk and the termination of the pregnancy is incidental to the lifesaving intervention, and the State Health Plan may not offer coverage for abortion services or services incidental to abortion except as permitted by this paragraph. The physician shall act in accordance with the standard of care to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of the pre-born child.

Bearden says that this standard is unclear. “What are ‘services incidental to abortion,’” she asks. “I don’t know and I don’t think the House knows either.”

Bearden pointed out is that last year the state covered only six abortions total, and all were cases for reasons of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life.

“I just want to make a point that in a state where reproductive health outcomes are incredibly poor… state legislators spent hours and hours debating just these six abortions,” Bearden said. Debates about funding healthcare, sexual transmitted infection testing, family planning, comprehensive sex education, those are the debate we never get to, she said.

The fate of the amendment now moves to the Senate which will take it up next week.

The Greenville News quotes one Republican senator who does not give the amendment much of a chance of survival.

The abortion proviso wouldn’t have much practical effect since few state employees find themselves in that situation, said Sen. Mike Fair of Greenville, an ardent anti-abortion supporter. While he said senators who oppose abortion might vote for the proviso, he is sure it will draw opposition and may not survive.

“I don’t think there are many over here who would agree with that strong a position,” he said. Fair said the health plan already doesn’t pay for elective abortions, the usual battleground for anti-abortion activists.

Sen. John Land, leader of Senate Democrats, said he couldn’t predict how the proviso would fare in the Senate but wouldn’t personally support it.

“All I can say is I would not be willing to change the existing contract state employees have with their state insurance to preclude any service that has heretofore been rendered to them,” he said.

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  • laurel-hechanova

    As if the insult needed injury, the blurb right underneath the one on the abortion ban says the House voted to keep the golf tourney. Nice. Half a dozen extreme-case abortions are out of the question, but they’ll approve $10M for the PGA.

  • persephonerocks

    Why, year after year, do people keep trying to interfere with one another’s lives? A woman should never have to bear a child she doesn’t want. Period. No, she shouldn’t wait until the third trimester, being in denial is something else altogether, but I for one was not born into this world to have babies for people who can’t have them, and babies are REALLY expensive, and I should always have the say when and if I have them. I am middle aged now, and have two adult children and a grandchild, and my kids are pro-choice too. When are people going to stop being so sentimental about another person’s conception? I love kids, but let other people make their own decisions! I’ve had two abortions in my past, and never regreted it for one moment. I did not need or want a child at that time!

  • crowepps

    Nice to know that they were willing to go to the wall to safeguard the right of rapists to be a daddy and the right of incestuous father/grandfathers to impose pregnancy as well as sex on kiddies.


    Personally, I think these guys need a lot MORE education.  How about some community volunteer time at a PP prenatal clinic.

  • sam

    Oh God I couldn’t agree with you more (and the rest of you posters). I always say, doesn’t that make them rapists or allowers of rapists and rape as well? And shouldn’t they be liable? And most of all, shouldn’t they pay for those children’s existence 100%, since they won’t have a proper life?

    Willy Wonka said it best, “If God intended us to walk, he wouldn’t have invented roller skates”

    I say, “If God intended us to have sickly, mean, hateful, abusive, ignorant, incestuous, planet polluting, fatherless children, he wouldn’t have invented abortion.”

    These are the types of people who always say, “but I never let myself get into that situation…” It saddens me and sickens me the mentality of these pro-lifers just how ignorant they truly are about God. After all, didn’t he want peace on Earth? It sure isn’t going in that direction throughout the world when all these religions are preaching, “abortion is bad, life begins at conception… fight, fight, fight…” Hello? Life begins before conception!!! Sorry to vent but I guess this is what this forum is for. 

    I was lucky twice in my life, to “save the life” of 2 unborn children, from a fate of a life of misery, pain, poverty and abuse. I thank God everyday for inventing abortion and the morning after pill. In the first case, I was underage. This is what happens when nurturing, protection, love and boundaries, and most of all, education on the subject, aren’t present. The result… Children having children. That should never be allowed! EVER! In any part of the world! 

    Haiti, perfect example. Half the population is under the age of 18. Why? because they allow the behavior and there is no education on the subject. Why? The more people, the better the business to line the pockets of the corrupt. The more the ignorant, the more it helps the corrupt. Sound familiar? This is what’s happening in the US as well. The more babies, the more Corporate lines their filthy pockets. Believe me, this is bigger than most think. Abortion will always be a political and financial factor among all countries. At this point I’m beginning to think that this isn’t about God anymore. Only the ignorant think it is in some sick and twisted way. But for the people making money off this… This is about Greed. 

    I’d say more but I’d have to write a book. Thanks for listening.

  • fletch1165

    Is it any surprise Bush hawk Lindsay Graham is a Senate rep. from South Carolina? If any progress is to be made, vote him out of office first.  What do you expect from this lock step partisan, one of the worst and most corrupt politicians in U.S. history? Nealry every word he utters is a bald faced lie. He has only the interests of himself and other core elitists at heart and would sell out anyone including his own family members to acheive his immoral and amoral goals.


    Only women should be given the right to vote on their own biological future. This issue should be decided my women not men.