A draft of proposed changes in regulations for licensed abortion clinics in South Carolina would have required some women seeking abortions to obtain consent from their husbands and require them to undergo additional testing for sexually transmitted diseases. But according to a spokesperson for the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, errors were found in the language of the drafted revisions, which the agency plans to update following comments received during the current public comment period.
A proposed change to require a husband’s consent for women receiving an abortion was included in error, as was language regarding testing for sexually transmitted diseases, which were meant to be carried forward as recommendations, not requirements, according to Jennifer Read, chief communications officer with DHEC.
“The proposed changes to the regulation were meant only to better conform to the recommendations by the S.C. House Legislative Audit Council and the S.C. House Legislative Oversight Committee, as well as to conform to recent statutory changes that were passed during the last legislative session,” wrote Read. “We apologize for any confusion or concern these errors may have caused and are correcting the language in the current draft, which will be reviewed again by stakeholders tomorrow.”
In the current draft of the first major update to regulations for clinics since 1996, DHEC requires abortion clinics to maintain at least one obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) board-certified physician on staff who has admitting privileges at a local hospital with OB/GYN services or have a signed agreement with an OB/GYN board-certified physician to ensure his or her availability during all operating hours. According to DHEC’s proposal, any new regulations would require a legislative review.
Vicki Ringer, South Carolina director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, argues that requiring physicians who perform abortions to be board-certified OB/GYNS simply reduces the number of physicians available for clinics and that other trained physicians, such as doctors of internal medicine, are capable of providing care for those seeking abortions.
According to Elizabeth Nash with the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that examines reproductive health issues and legislation, this requirement poses a problem for many clinics. As senior state issues associate with the institute, Nash says there are some states that require either the abortion provider have admitting privileges or requires the provider to have an agreement with a physician who does, but this regulation applies to OB/GYNs.
Nash calls the regulation another attempt to use admitting privileges to close clinic doors, writing, “In a sense, this requirement could be more burdensome because the provider with the admitting privileges must be an OB/GYN and there are fewer of them."