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S.C. Clinic, Waste Disposal Company Agree To Pay Fines Over Disposal of Fetal Tissue

December 17, 2015 — A South Carolina abortion clinic and a waste disposal company have agreed to pay the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control nearly $8,000 in fines over the disposal of fetal tissue, the AP/Rock Hill Herald reports (Adcox, AP/Rock Hill Herald, 12/15).

Background

Gov. Nikki Haley (R) asked DHEC to investigate abortion clinics in the state following a series of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue donation program. 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. The closure orders were lifted after the clinics paid the fines and submitted correction plans.

However, DHEC Director Catherine Heigel last month told a state House Oversight Committee that the three clinics and two medical waste disposal companies possibly faced additional fines. Earlier this month, state Rep. Gary Clary (R), chair of the state House Oversight Committee, said the committee's investigation into Planned Parenthood likely would conclude in January (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/3).

Latest Developments

According to records obtained by the Associated Press, the Charleston Women's Medical Center paid $1,800 in fines related to fetal tissue disposal earlier this month. The Texas-based waste disposal company MedSharps agreed to pay $6,000 in fines, which will be paid out in six installments beginning Jan. 4, 2016.

Final consent orders show both entities will pay nearly $2,000 less in fines than originally proposed by DHEC. According to the AP/Herald, the consent orders took effect on Dec. 7 for the clinic and on Dec. 8 for the waste disposal company.

Meanwhile, a DHEC spokesperson said negotiations with another disposal company and the two other state abortion clinics are ongoing (AP/Rock Hill Herald, 12/15).