Joshua Adams via Henry McMaster's Flickr
Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered the state agency in charge of Medicaid to drop abortion clinics as health care providers a mere week after he vetoed $16 million for essential family planning services.
McMaster's veto last week was squarely aimed at Planned Parenthood as the governor asserts his anti-abortion bona fides in an attempt to win his first gubernatorial election.
Planned Parenthood only got about $82,000 of more than $42 million spent by the state on Medicaid reimbursements for family planning services during the 2016-2017 fiscal year, but that didn't stop McMaster from vetoing $16 million meant to fund everything from preventative screenings to birth control to lab work.
"Taxpayer dollars must not directly or indirectly subsidize abortion providers like Planned Parenthood," McMaster wrote in his veto letter to the state legislature last week.
Today, McMaster ordered the state Department of Health and Human Services to deem abortion clinics "unqualified to provide family planning services and therefore, to immediately terminate them upon due notice and deny any future such provider enrollment applications for the same."
However, Friday's executive order
also directs the department to continue funding family planning services with carry-forward funds.
"Although the State should not contract with abortion clinics for family planning services, the State also should not deny South Carolinians access to necessary medical care and important women’s health and family planning services, which are provided by a variety of other non-governmental entities and governmental agencies," McMaster said in a statement.
In South Carolina, the DHHS operates Medicaid, a joint federal-state program that provides health insurance to low-income residents.
Planned Parenthood, which has clinics in Charleston and Columbia, has maintained
that abortions represent a single-digit percentage of services offered at their locations.
The governor's Democratic challenger, state Rep. James Smith, responded to McMaster's executive order in a tweet Friday afternoon.
"As governor, I will understand the impact of my vetoes before I make them. I would never play political games with the healthcare of the people of South Carolina," he wrote.
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S.C. Governor's Office