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South Carolina joins growing list of states limiting access to abortion

David Montero, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Women's News

In the latest move by states to curtail abortions, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has signed an executive order to stop giving state money to any doctor or group affiliated with providing abortions.

More than four decades after the U.S. Supreme Court deemed abortion legal, states are trying to place restrictions on when and how the procedure may be performed, or to cut off funding for groups that perform abortions.

South Carolina's move is also another salvo aimed at Planned Parenthood, the largest single provider of abortions in the country, and a popular target among conservatives who oppose abortion. The group was the subject of a bill signed quietly by President Donald Trump in April that allowed states to deny some federal funding to the nonprofit group's operations.

"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," the Republican governor said in a statement. "Taxpayer dollars must not directly or indirectly subsidize abortion providers like Planned Parenthood."

It is already illegal to use federal dollars for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger.

Planned Parenthood officials say abortions make up a small fraction of the services they provide, and that federal funding supports the other health care services they offer.

Planned Parenthood tweeted shortly after McMaster signed the executive order, saying state residents would hold the governor accountable and ending with a one-word admonishment: "Shame."

Trump's signing of the bill overturned a regulation that stopped states from denying federal Title X family planning funds to places that also provide abortions. Planned Parenthood -- which has three locations in South Carolina, only one of which offers abortions -- fell under the scope of that bill. It narrowly passed earlier this year with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

McMaster, who supported Trump's presidential campaign, is facing a primary challenge next year, and some of his opponents had already come out in favor of defunding sites that offer abortion services.

South Carolina is just the latest state to take aim at Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that allowed abortion. The executive order follows the state's decision last year to ban doctors from performing abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. That law also doesn't allow for an exemption if the fetus has a fatal defect in the womb, and also makes no exceptions for rape or incest cases.

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