S.C. regulations for abortion clinics stand Facility regulations brought to public eye in S.C. by abortion clinic employees

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear arguments Feb. 26 to South Carolina’s abortion clinic legislation. Their refusal to hear the case upholds the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the state’s regulations on abortion clinics are constitutional.

The lack of first trimester abortion clinic regulations in the state came to light in 1992 when Lori Saunders and Celeste Danish, employees of the now-defunct Ladies’ Clinic in North Charleston, filed a complaint with the DHEC against the late Dr. Jesse Floyd, the clinic owner. Because state law did not regulate first trimester abortion clinics, DHEC’s ability to investigate the complaint was limited to possible violations of the Hazardous Waste Management Act.

The Abortion Clinic Regulation Act was introduced in the 1993 S.C. General Assembly by Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston. During public hearings about the legislation, post-aborted women told of bloody sheets and cots and dirty bathrooms they encountered in various abortion clinics. One young woman even testified that the abortionist had a dog in the procedure room.

The Abortion Clinic Regulation Act, which authorized DHEC to write and enforce regulations, was passed by the General Assembly in 1994, and Gov. Carroll Campbell signed it into law. For the next year, DHEC officials conducted a process of formulating the regulations, inviting public input from abortion providers, abortion opponents, and health care professionals.

After developing these rules, the General Assembly gave its final approval in 1996. On June 27, 1996, one day before the regulations were to take effect, two abortion facilities, the Greenville Women’s Clinic and the Charleston Women’s Medical Clinic, and one abortion provider, William Lynn, sued to avoid compliance.

“The abortion industry fought the law every step of the way and is continuing its opposition with every legal maneuver available,” said Holly Gatling, executive director of South Carolina Citizens for Life. She also expressed disappointment at recent media reports focused on the “shrill hyperbole” of the abortion industry, while ignoring the real story.

“As long as Roe vs. Wade remains the law of the land, it will be legal for abortion to kill unborn children through all nine months of pregnancy and for any reason or no reason at all,” Gatling said. She added that although abortions have declined in South Carolina by 45 percent in 10 years is no indication that abortion isn’t available to women. “It means that girls and women who find themselves facing a crisis pregnancy are making choices other than abortion.”