September 29, 2015 — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control on Friday lifted sanctions against one abortion clinic in the state and put the closure of another clinic on hold, allowing both clinics to continue operations, the AP/Oklahoman reports (AP/Oklahoman, 9/28).
Two of the three clinics in the state had their licenses suspended when Gov. Nikki Haley (R) had asked DHEC to investigate abortion clinics in the state, following a series of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood (Self, Columbia State, 9/26).
The videos, which depict Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donation, were released by an antiabortion-rights group called the Center for Medical Progress. Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities. The organization said it does not profit from fetal tissue donations and only receives reimbursement for costs associated with such donations, which is legal. In August, Planned Parenthood submitted a report to Congress that found the videos were manipulated, making them unreliable for official inquiries into the organization.
Between Aug. 31 and Sept. 4, DHEC investigated the three clinics in South Carolina: a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, the Greenville Women's Clinic and the Charleston Women's Medical Center. The department found 21 administrative and operational violations at the Columbia clinic, six violations at the Greenville clinic and four minor errors in documentation at the Charleston facility.
DHEC suspended the licenses for the Columbia and Greenville clinics. Under the department's orders, the suspended clinics had to close unless they paid penalty fees and came into compliance by Sept. 28 (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/14). According to the State, DHEC also submitted the findings from its investigation to state law enforcement, which is weighing whether to conduct a preliminary investigation.
Clinics Aim To Comply
According to DHEC, Greenville Women's Clinic on Friday paid a $2,750 fine and gave proof that it corrected violations and its staff is trained (Columbia State, 9/26).
Meanwhile, DHEC spokesperson Jennifer Read said Planned Parenthood on Monday asked DHEC to review several of the sanctions against the Columbia clinic, which places the clinic's suspension on hold. Planned Parenthood also paid $7,500 in fines and gave DHEC a corrections plan, which is currently under review.
Jenny Black, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said Monday, "We take our role as an essential community health care provider very seriously, and are committed to keeping our doors open to all South Carolinians that rely on us for access to critical health care." She added, "We will do everything in our power today to verify our compliance with all state laws and regulations" (AP/Oklahoman, 9/28).