Lawmakers masked funding to Planned Parenthood by funding state agencies that have contracts with the network of clinics, according to Patricia Wheat of Lexington, a pro-life Republican.
Wheat, one of two candidates vying for Republican Sen. Katrina Shealy’s seat, was surrounded on Wednesday by a smattering of supporters. They cheered on the small group of lawmakers who voted against the Senate’s $7.5 billion spending plan.
Wheat thinks lawmakers chose political expediency over saving lives. “I think that our General Assembly is caught up in politics,” she said.
Shealy voted in favor of the bill, but voted against the budget section that would fund the Department of Health and Human Services.
Shealy voted against funding to HHS because it would have funded Planned Parenthood. She couldn’t support funding abortion, she said, but you can’t not fund state government. “It would be utterly ridiculous to think that we can’t fund this state.”
Planned Parenthood came under fire last year after a series of videos depicted clinic officials selling aborted human tissue for profit. Nationwide the clinics offer women’s health services and contraception. Some clinics—including the location in Columbia—perform abortions.
The Columbia and Greenville-based locations were suspended in 2015 after the Department of Health and Environmental Control found violations at those clinics, including improper disposal of infectious waste. The agency also found violations of a state law requiring clinicians to give women at least 24 hours to review information on embryonic development before terminating a pregnancy.
Currently two South Carolina-based Planned Parenthood clinics are operating in Columbia and Charleston, according to the organization’s website.
More than 11,000 abortions were performed in South Carolina in 2013 and 2014, according to DHEC.
Lawmakers are set to work out the differences in both chambers’ budget plans after House members return from furlough next week.
Wheat called on lawmakers to reject funding to Planned Parenthood and on Republican Gov. Nikki Haley to veto it, if that portion of the budget makes it to her desk.