If you're tired of hearing me complain about South Carolina, join the club. I would welcome the chance to shower the Palmetto State with praise as a champion for women's rights and opportunity. Alas, SC has other plans. Even the good news seems to come with a price. For example, The SC House recently voted against a provision in the proposed state budget that would have ended health insurance abortion coverage for victims of rape or incest. You might think that such a ban would be a no-brainer but, with a margin of defeat by only three votes, it makes you wonder if SC legislators have a brain at all? Take these two little nuggets of oppression and ignorance from the SC General Assembly in just the past week:
Eliminating the state's entire HIV/AIDS budget: An estimated 14,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in South Carolina, ranked eighth in the nation in new AIDS cases. The proposed budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year would eliminate all money for the state's HIV/AIDS prevention and drug assistance programs. As The State paper reports, "The cut would mean the 2,055 people enrolled in the Drug Assistance Program would no longer get help in paying for their medication and could face dire health consequences." What dire health consequences you might ask? Death for starters.
24-Hour Waiting Periods and Referrals to Fake Clinics: This one is a double whammy. After much debate and many failed attempts, the SC Senate finally passed a bill that will require women seeking an abortion to wait 24 hours after receiving an ultrasound. Many states across the country have successfully passed similar legislation that adds an undue burden and expense to women seeking an abortion and speaks to the misguided notion that women take choice lightly and flippantly decide to terminate a pregnancy.
What's particularly egregious is the support of so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPC). The waiting period begins after the patient receives information about the procedure or receives an ultrasound. If the patient elects to receive an ultrasound she is referred to a so-called crisis pregnancy resource center for an ultrasound.
This news is equally laughable and terrifying. These fake clinics are not staffed by medically trained professionals and employ delay tactics and intimidation to deceive women from receiving comprehensive medical care. A Congressional investigation of CPCs revealed that 87% provided false or misleading information about the health effects of abortion and grossly misrepresent the medical risk of abortion by telling women that having an abortion could increase the risk of breast cancer, result in sterility and lead to suicide and "post-abortion syndrome."
By passing legislation that not only supports these fake clinics but will now refer women to receive these "services," SC legislators are implicitly endorsing the deceitful tactics and lies of fake clinics and have turned their backs on the women of SC and scientifically proven strategies to reduce unwanted pregnancies.
Want a reason not to flee the state? The House must still vote on the 24-hour waiting period bill and the elimination of all HIV/AIDS funds is only in the proposed budget and still requires a vote, as well. Translation? There is still time to speak out against these measures. Call your representatives, write a letter to your local paper and organize your neighbors against these horrendous policies in Columbia. Speak out against the disproportionate affect that these policies will have on low-income residents and those who are underinsured or uninsured. You must stay, stand up and fight back! And if they still won't listen to us? Perhaps we'll just run for office ourselves.