Agency says it erred in re­quir­ing hus­band’s OK for abor­tion

Malta Independent - - HEALTH -

A South Carolina agency said Wed­nes­day it erred in sug­gest­ing mar­ried women get their hus­band’s per­mis­sion to get an abor­tion.

That is among pro­posed changes to abor­tion clinic reg­u­la­tions that the state’s health agency put out last month for pub­lic com­ment, fol­low­ing a unan­i­mous vote by the agency’s board. Abor­tion rights ad­vo­cates called them ex­treme and po­lit­i­cally driven.

“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 re­gional spokes­woman Vicki Ringer said in a state­ment. “Sim­ply put, the reg­u­la­tions are based in pol­i­tics, not medicine.”

The agency then is­sued an oops.

It was a mis­take to sug­gest a mar­ried woman, if liv­ing with her hus­band, get his signed con­sent to have an abor­tion at a clinic. State law re­quires a hus­band’s con­sent in the third trimester, but such abor­tions can oc­cur only in hos­pi­tals, the state Depart­ment of Health and En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­trol said in a state­ment.

By law, clin­ics can per­form abor­tions up to 18 weeks ges­ta­tion.

The agency is also drop­ping a pro­posal to re­quire, in­stead of of­fer, cer­tain tests in­clud­ing a pap smear and tests for sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases.

Ringer said manda­tory tests for syphilis, gon­or­rhea and chlamy­dia would be a bar­rier “in­tended to shame woman.”

Agency spokes­woman Jen­nifer Read said the cur­rent draft is be­ing cor­rected and will be re­viewed again Thurs­day.

“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,” she said in an email. “We apol­o­gize for any con­fu­sion or con­cern these er­rors may have caused.”

The agency is ac­cept­ing pub­lic com­ments on the pro­pos­als through Mon­day. A pub­lic hear­ing will likely be held in De­cem­ber. The agency’s rec­om­men­da­tions must then go to the Leg­is­la­ture for re­view.

Other sug­gested changes op­posed by abor­tion-rights ad­vo­cates in­clude re­mov­ing a ju­ve­nile’s abil­ity to by­pass parental con­sent and get per­mis­sion from a judge, re­quir­ing physi­cians that per­form abor­tions to be board-cer­ti­fied in ob­stet­rics and gy­ne­col­ogy, and re­quir­ing clin­ics to meet higher sur­gi­cal stan­dards.

South Carolina’s Repub­li­can­con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture has re­peat­edly tight­ened the rules on abor­tions.

Last spring, Gov. Nikki Ha­ley signed a law ban­ning most abor­tions at 20 weeks be­yond fer­til­iza­tion.

The ban’s only ex­cep­tions are if the mother’s life is in jeop­ardy or a doc­tor de­ter­mines the fe­tus can­not sur­vive out­side the womb. Its def­i­ni­tion of “fe­tal anom­aly” makes it il­le­gal to abort a fe­tus with a se­vere dis­abil­ity if the child could live. Such anom­alies are gen­er­ally de­tected around 20 weeks.

Sup­port­ers cite the dis­puted claim that a fe­tus can feel pain at 20 weeks. Op­po­nents say later-term abor­tions usu­ally hap­pen with wanted preg­nan­cies in which com­plex med­i­cal sit­u­a­tions arise.

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