South Carolina, April 9th
Letters and petitions have been sent to Governor Henry McMaster urging him to close abortions clinics, who have failed to comply with his request to “halt all elective and non-threatening surgical and medical procedures.” The medical community at-large has voluntarily complied with the request during this crisis at great financial cost. They are united in their efforts to protect the lives of the most vulnerable in our society with one glaring exception — abortion clinics. As hospitals across the country face critical shortages of personal protection equipment (PPE) and medical resources essential to combating the coronavirus, abortion clinics continue to use scarce PPE and increase risk to exposure among staff and patients.
A letter to Gov. McMaster authored by Senator Richard Cash (R-Anderson) and signed by 17 Senators including Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey and Senate President Harvey Peeler stated, “As a matter of fact, killing a baby in the mother’s womb is an elective procedure, a “choice”, not a necessity, not an emergency. Abortion clinics are not complying with the request you made on March 17th; rather they are using up PPE and exposing staff and patients to unnecessary risks by continuing to perform abortions.”
In a conference arranged by Sen. Cash, Rep. John McCravy (R-Greenwood), the moderator of the House Family Caucus said, “We are to the person outraged… disgusted at their failure to comply with the Governor’s request.” Family Caucus member Stewart Jones (R-Laurens), authored a “Letter from the House” signed by 17 members of the house that said, “The Governor has closed business, sent people home, families are not working, yet abortions continue in South Carolina. We need to close every abortion clinic in this state immediately. Other states are doing this across our country. Texas, Ohio, Maryland and other States are making these same calls.”
Also on the call were leaders of pro-family groups. Joshua Putnam, executive director of Palmetto Family Council, launched a petition campaign asking for abortion closure to “limit community spread” and urging “the Governor and DHEC to enforce what they have medical facilities to do during this pandemic.” Lisa Van Riper, President of South Carolina Citizens for Life, said, “society is working feverishly and making great sacrifice to save the heartbeat of those stricken with this virus. The fact that Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics… [continue to be] allowed to operate in direct defiance of the Governor’s directive is unconscionable.”
Holly Gattling, speaking on behalf of the National Right to Life Committee, addressed the question of whether the Governor has the legal authority to temporarily close abortion clinics during the crisis. She pointed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The court upheld Governor Greg Abbot’s (R-TX) executive order requiring “all licensed medical facilities, and that’s including abortion facilities, to postpone all surgeries and procedures not immediately medically necessary.”
Dr. Matt Clark, a practicing physician who holds a master’s in public health and serves as Executive Director of Personhood SC, offered his thoughts from a medical and public health perspective on the decision of abortion practitioner’s to continue to provide abortions: “From the perspective of an individual physician, in my office we’re practicing very strict social distancing … and the kinds of visits we have with patients are not near as close and likely to spread illness as what’s going on inside abortion clinics.