S.C. Senators Reach Compromise on Abortion Coverage in State Employee Health Plan

May 29, 2012 — Two South Carolina senators on Thursday announced a budget compromise under which public funding would not be used to cover abortion care for state employees in cases of rape or incest, the Columbia State reports.

The state employee health plan currently covers abortion care in cases of rape, incest or to save a woman's life, using a combination of public money and workers' premiums. Under the compromise, only workers' premiums would be used to fund abortion coverage for rape and incest cases. Employees who do not want their premiums to go toward abortion care would be able to opt out (Beam, Columbia State, 5/25).

A similar measure had been included in the state's general fund budget (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/26). However, the Senate approved the budget on Thursday without the compromise. Instead, lawmakers plan to pass a separate measure establishing the new guidelines after they receive a report from the state health plan on whether premiums will increase and by how much. The report is due by Nov. 15.

Since 2006, the state health plan has paid for six abortions, all of which were needed to save a woman's life.

Sen. Brad Hutto (D), who helped to reach the compromise, said "It allows [employees] to stand on their principle that they want to make sure that state funds aren't going to pay for the procedures, and it allows those of us who want to make sure that victims of rape and incest who might need to avail themselves of this procedure have the coverage" (Columbia State, 5/25).