South Carolina Bid to Stop Some Tax-Funded Abortions Fails

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 28, 2011   |   11:57AM   |   Columbia, SC

A move to strip funding for rape and incest abortions from the state employees’ health insurance plan failed by one vote Wednesday in the Republican-controlled South Carolina Senate.

Senators Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, and David Thomas, R-Greenville, offered the amendment during debate on the 2011-2012 state budget.

In what is known as Part 1B, Section 80C of the state budget, the state employees’ health insurance coverage reads in part:  “No funds appropriated for employer contributions to the State Health Insurance Plan may be expended to reimburse the expenses of an abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or where the mother’s medical condition is one which, on the basis of the physician’s good faith judgment, so complicates the pregnancy as to necessitate an immediate abortion to avert the risk of her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function, and the State Health Plan may not offer coverage for abortion services, including ancillary services provided contemporaneously with abortion services.”

The Bryant-Thomas amendment would have removed the six words “in cases of rape; incest or” leaving the rest of the House-passed language intact.

Some courts have ruled that “impairment of a major bodily function” includes the brain and therefore abortions may be performed for the mental health of the mother.  It is unclear if the language of Section 80C excludes mental health abortions.

Numerous court decisions have held that federal, state, and local entities can prohibit government funding of abortion.

Senator Joel Lourie, D-Richland, moved to table (defeat) the Bryant-Thomas amendment. The motion to table passed by one vote.  Those who voted against tabling the amendment were voting in favor of the Bryant-Thomas amendment.

To see how your state senators voted, go to