DHEC cites abortion clinics for violations, suspends two

COLUMBIA—The future of two of South Carolina’s three abortion clinics is uncertain after state health officials suspended their licenses on Sept. 11.

Clinics in Columbia and Greenville were cited by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control with violations of state law and given until Sept. 28 to make required improvements or face possible closure, according to a statement released by DHEC. The agency also referred its findings to the State Law Enforcement Division.

A third clinic, Charleston Women’s Medical Center on Ashley River Road, was cited with four minor violations but did not have its license suspended.

Gov. Nikki Haley called for an investigation of the state’s abortion clinics after undercover videos surfaced that show Planned Parenthood workers discussing the sale of fetal tissue from abortions for research.


Planned Parenthood runs the Columbia clinic on Middleburg Drive, but has no connection with the Greenville Women’s Clinic or the Charleston medical center.

The videos created a national outcry and led to a Sept. 18 vote by the U.S. House to defund the organization. The legislation is largely symbolic, however, as it lacks the votes needed in the Senate and would face a White House veto.

Haley addressed the DHEC investigation and the violations it uncovered in a statement to the public, saying, and “This is completely unacceptable. …We will not tolerate law breaking of any kind, particularly as it relates to the callous treatment of human life.”

Pro-life activists welcomed news about the suspensions, but said the battle against abortion still has a long way to go.

“Advocates should confront this news with continued prayer and fasting,” said Michael Acquilano, director of the South Carolina Catholic Conference. “Yes, this is a small victory, but the war is not over. We must further our efforts and continue to change the hearts and minds of those in our community.”

Kathy Schmugge, director of the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of Charleston, said she was encouraged by the suspension of the licenses.

“Each day these clinics are closed means lives are being saved that day, but it is hard to predict the future of the facilities,” Schmugge said. “Even if the serious violations cited are corrected, the fact remains that abortion takes an innocent life and leaves the mother and father with lifelong regret and pain.”

According to DHEC, its inspectors found 21 violations of state law at the Columbia facility, including “failure to properly incinerate medical waste”, failure to keep proper paperwork and having expired medications on the premises. The Columbia clinic was fined $7,500. Six violations were found at the Greenville Women’s Clinic, which was fined $2,750.