South Carolina’s public health agency is walking back a proposal suggesting that women obtain their husband’s permission prior to having an abortion.
The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says it erred in making the proposal among other suggested changes to abortion clinic regulations that were released for public comment in September.
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic spokeswoman Vicki Ringer said DHEC’s proposals are “extreme,” “medically unnecessary,” and “unconstitutional.”
The Associated Press reports Ringer said in a statement:
The South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC) recently proposed a series of extreme regulations for abortion providers. Many of these proposed changes are medically unnecessary, unconstitutional and clearly designed to further impede a woman’s ability to make the deeply personal decision to seek safe, legal abortion.
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic is committed to patient health and safety and we continually seek out ways to improve patient care. Yet many of DHEC’s proposed regulations are medically unnecessary and would turn back the clock on women’s health. Restrictions like requiring husband’s consent, admitting privileges, denying minors’ judicial bypass and mandating surgical-facility requirements, are all blatantly unconstitutional. These restrictions among others- such as mandatory STI testing no matter the woman’s circumstances- are intended to shame women and put barriers in their way of seeking constitutionally protected medical care. Simply put, the regulations are based in politics, not medicine.
“We stand with South Carolina women and will fight these burdensome, unconstitutional and medically-unnecessary regulations,” Ringer concluded.
As CBS News reports, other changes suggested by DHEC include denying minors the ability to bypass parental consent for abortion through use of the judiciary; a requirement that abortionists be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology; and a mandate that abortion clinics meet higher health and safety standards.
DHEC is also shelving a proposal to require – rather than offer – pap smears and tests to detect sexually transmitted diseases to women, regardless of their circumstances.
The agency said it was an error to suggest a married woman living with her husband be required to obtain his consent prior to abortion. Currently, South Carolina state law requires a husband’s consent in the third trimester of pregnancy, and these late-term abortions are only performed in hospitals.
“As a result of comments received during the current public comment period, we realized there were two errors in the language of the existing draft revision,” DHEC spokeswoman Jennifer Read said. “We apologize for any confusion or concern these errors may have caused.”
After a public hearing about the proposed changes, the state agency’s recommendations must go before the state legislature for review.
In May, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) signed legislation that prohibits abortion in the state past 20 weeks of pregnancy.