Legislators in South Carolina are still trying to pass a $5 billion state budget that got stalled primarily due to taxpayer-subsidized abortion. Current state law does allow for state health insurance plans to cover abortions in cases of rape, incest, or for the health of the mother. However, Republicans believe that needs to stop, as that means that last year taxpayers funded a whopping six abortions across the entire state.
Taxpayer-funded abortions were a central debate as the U.S. House and Senate passed national health care legislation this year. Supporters made it clear the legislation wouldn’t expand taxpayer-funded abortions and President Barack Obama ultimately signed an executive order making federal law clear.
When the South Carolina House took up the state budget in March, Republicans made coverage for abortion under the state health plan a rallying point. They initially lost a bid with a 57-54 vote. But the next day, in what became a rare all-night session, Republicans rallied with a 75-38 vote after a six-hour debate and won a ban on state health care plan coverage for rape or incest.
Democrats argued the change penalizes crime victims and noted the number of abortions last year, which only inflamed Republicans.
“We killed six babies last year on the taxpayers’ dime,” Landrum Republican Rep. Joey Millwood said over and over.
“It is such an inflammatory issue, it just sort of blows up,” said Huffmon, the Winthrop political scientist.
The reaction comes despite polling that shows a majority of Republicans support abortion exceptions for rape, incest and the health of a mother, Winthrop noted.
Had the House decided not to debate the issue, the session could have ended early, saving taxpayers $73,000 a week.
Ironically, the “babies” being saved in the process would not be able to be enrolled in the state’s health insurance program for children, as it has been closed to new enrollees due to Republican proposed budget cuts.