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S.C. Health Department Suspends Two Clinics' Licenses, Threatens Closure

September 14, 2015 — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control on Friday suspended the licenses of two of the three clinics in the state, WLTX 19 reports.

According to WLTX 19, Gov. Nikki Haley (R) asked DHEC to investigate abortion clinics in the state following a series of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood (Santaella, WLTX 19, 9/11).

Background

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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/27).

Investigation Details

DHEC investigated the three clinics in the state -- a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, the Greenville Women's Clinic and the Charleston Women's Medical Center -- between Aug. 31 and Sept. 4.

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 DHEC orders, the suspended clinics will have to close unless they pay the penalty fees and come into compliance by Sept. 28. To comply with state requirements, the clinics will have to submit a plan to correct the violations, take action to stop the reoccurrence of those violations and provide evidence that they have provided employee training.

Planned Parenthood Responds

Jenny Black, Planned Parenthood's regional CEO, questioned the motives for the investigation and suspensions, noting that less than one year prior the department found that the Planned Parenthood clinic was in 100% compliance with state requirements.

"The reported administrative and operational issues do not rise to the level of shutting down health centers," she said, adding, "We are reviewing all of the issues that were raised in these inspections and will of course comply with all state requests. We are deeply concerned that this investigation is politically motivated and that this political interference could prevent some women from getting high-quality care" (WLTX 19, 9/11).