South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster followed through on his threats to veto state funding which could go towards Planned Parenthood.
The governor released his line-item vetos Friday for the budget approved last week by the General Assembly. Among those vetoes was state Medicaid family planning funding for Planned Parenthood and other providers.
“The veto that I have is the most direct way to get the money that is going to them, that is going directly to them for family planning services, which, in Planned Parenthood land, that means abortions,” Governor McMaster said.
The veto is for $15.7 million in total funds in the state Department of Health and Human Services budget, including $2.2 million in state General funds listed under “Medical Assitance Payments, Family Planning.”
Since the money reimburses clinics for Medicaid patient visits, it is not clear how much would go towards Planned Parenthood. The organization has received no more than $83,000 annually the past three years, according to the state Office of Revenue and Fiscal Affairs.
“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 but without performing abortions,” McMaster said. “That is why last year I directed state agencies to stop providing state or local funds to abortion clinics.”
McMaster also said last year he “directed the Department of Health and Human Services to submit a waiver request to the federal government, making South Carolina one of only two states in the nation (along with Texas) to take this action.” That waiver has not yet been granted by the federal government.
When asked if the Governor was concerned about how the veto could affect other services provided by women’s health clinics in the state, he responded, “There is concern. But the big concern is Planned Parenthood using taxpayer money — our taxpayer money — for abortions.”
A previous study by the House Legislative Oversight Committee in 2015 found Planned Parenthood had not spent any taxpayer money on abortions, but pro-life groups often argue any taxpayer funds indirectly supplement abortion operations.
Medicaid family planning dollars in South Carolina mostly fund contraceptives, counseling and STI screening and treatments. Advocates say the loss of that money could impact low-income families the most.
“While the veto is cloaked in a moral judgment about abortion, the governor is well aware that these state dollars do not go toward abortion services,” Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network CEO Ann Warner said in a statement. “What the veto does is hurt the ability of low-income women and families to be able to get the support they need to decide if, when, and how they create families.”
The General Assembly will need to take up the governor’s vetoes, but has not scheduled their return to Columbia. Last year the House and Senate waited until their regular session resumed in January, but are expected to return in special session this summer.