"I'll keep on vetoing it": Governor uses budget veto for abortion stand
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WACH) -- South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is removing $16 million from the state budget that he says goes to Planned Parenthood.
McMaster is running for re-election this year and said during his successful campaign to win the Republican nomination that he would make sure no taxpayer money goes to abortion providers.
"I have stated many times that I am opposed to what Planned Parenthood is doing and the veto that I have is the most direct way to get the money going to them, that is going directly to them, for family planning services, which in Planned Parenthood land that means abortions," said McMaster. "This is the center, this is the core of it and that's why I vetoed it. And I'll keep on vetoing it."
Other Republicans against abortion urged McMaster to veto $34 million from the $8 billion budget, but the governor's office said eliminating all the money would keep 700,000 women and children from getting prescriptions through Medicaid.
Some Republicans opposed removing the money, saying it was almost all for family planning and abstinence and less than $100,000 goes to Planned Parenthood. They say filling the hole left behind might hurt law enforcement or children with autism.
McMaster's Democratic opponent in the November election, Rep. James Smith, said the governor's move to keep roughly $82,000 from Planned Parenthood by blocking millions of dollars in funding, is a "moral outrage" and will impact healthcare needs for the poor.
"This is a gross illustration of how this governor cares far more about ideological posturing on divisive issues than he does about the people of South Carolina,” said Smith. “He has no interest in the most basic needs of our people; he’s all about throwing red meat to his base.”
Lawmakers can still override the McMaster's vetoes at a later date.
In a statement to WACH Fox News, Planned Parenthood's Director of Public Affairs, Vicki Ringer, Governor McMaster’s veto a "political stunt" that will have an impact on women and families in the state:
“Planned Parenthood South Atlantic has provided annual exams, birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and lifesaving cancer screenings — such as clinical breast exams and Pap tests — to women, men and young people in South Carolina for over 50 years.
“Governor McMaster’s veto of family planning dollars today is a political stunt that will have very real implications for South Carolina’s women and families. Let’s be clear: in an effort to prevent South Carolinians from accessing reproductive healthcare services at Planned Parenthood, he is rejecting all federal family planning Medicaid dollars, regardless of the provider. People with low incomes who rely on Medicaid for their healthcare are more likely to be from already marginalized groups, including women, people of color and people with disabilities. As a result of this political move, none of the South Carolinians who rely on Medicaid for their healthcare will be able to access family planning services at any of the state’s 4,000 Medicaid providers.
“It is clear that the Governor is singularly focused on his election bid in November and that is at the expense of South Carolina women. The veto does not “defund” Planned Parenthood, but it will ensure that South Carolinians who use Medicaid as their primary insurance will be unable to access affordable, basic health care.
“Governor McMaster has put his extreme political agenda ahead of the health and dignity of women and families in our state. We urge the legislature to stand with all South Carolinians and vote to override this politically-motivated veto.”