Abortion Reporting: South Carolina (2017)

Tessa Longbons  

South Carolina released its 2017 abortion report in July of 2018. Previously, the state reported abortion performed on residents only, but now provides statistics for all abortions performed in the state.

 

Statistics and Changes in South Carolina Abortions, 2016-2017

 

*2017 was the first year that South Carolina reported the types of abortion procedures performed in the state, so the change in the number of chemical abortions is not available. South Carolina has not yet published the state abortion rate.

 

 

 

Abortion Totals and Trends

 

There were 5,112 abortions performed in South Carolina in 2017 (Fig. 1). Abortion in the state has been declining over the past five years, falling by 16 percent from 2012 and by 11 percent from 2016, when 5,736 abortions were reported in the state. In 2017, more than half of the reported abortions, 58 percent, were chemical abortions. South Carolina reports the resident abortion rate in its online vital statistics database, but the rate for 2017 is not yet available. The Charlotte Lozier Institute estimates that the total abortion rate has declined from the previous year (Fig. 2).

 

State Report Summary

 

In 2017, South Carolina updated its abortion reporting process. The 2017 statistics were published in a stand-alone report and reflect all abortions reported in the state. Past abortion statistics were included as part of the state vital statistics report and online vital statistics database, reflecting abortions performed on South Carolina residents only. The database includes abortions performed on South Carolina residents in both South Carolina and neighboring states.

 

The state issued a new abortion reporting form halfway through the year, collecting gestational age for the first part of 2017 and probable post-fertilization (PPF) age during the second half. Gestational age is approximately two weeks more than PPF age. Of the abortions reported using gestational age, 34 percent were performed at six weeks of gestation or earlier and 65 percent between seven and 13 weeks. There were 17 abortions performed between 14 and 19 weeks and six abortions performed between 20 and 23 weeks. No abortions were reported after 24 weeks of gestation. Of the abortions reported using PPF age, 44 percent occurred at six weeks PPF or earlier. Fifty-six percent were performed between seven and 13 weeks PPF. There were two abortions performed between 14 and 19 weeks, with no abortions performed after 19 weeks PPF (approximately 21 weeks of gestation).

 

A little more than half of the abortions occurring in South Carolina were performed on women in their twenties (59 percent). Ten percent were 19 and younger, and 31 percent were 30 and older. For the abortions reported using the new form, an ultrasound was performed to determine PPF age for all but two. Beginning September 2017, South Carolina reports whether any attempts were made to kill babies using intra-fetal injections prior to performing abortions, a technique sometimes used before late-term procedures. There were no such attempts reported during the latter half of 2017.

 

Planned Parenthood’s Market Share

 

For the past five years, Planned Parenthood has consistently performed almost one-third of the abortions reported in South Carolina and is actively expanding its abortion market share. Planned Parenthood performed 1,656 abortions in its South Carolina center in 2017, or 32 percent of the state total. In late 2017, Planned Parenthood purchased the Charleston Women’s Medical Center, ensuring that abortions will continue to be performed in that region of the state. Planned Parenthood’s website now advertises abortions at its Charleston center. During 2017, before the facility changed hands, Charleston Women’s Medical Center performed more than 1,300 abortions. Facility data was provided to the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, upon CLI’s request.

 

In July, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed an executive order preventing abortion centers from receiving state Medicaid funds. State Medicaid may only be used to fund an abortion in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life, but the executive order would prevent abortion centers from receiving state tax dollars to pay for other services. During 2017, Planned Parenthood received $82,000 in Medicaid funding from South Carolina. Planned Parenthood has sued the state, and the executive order is currently not in effect as the case goes to court.

 

State Ranking

 

In 2016, CLI ranked South Carolina at 28th place out of the 50 states, New York City, and the District of Columbia for the quality of its abortion reporting. Since then, South Carolina has made progress, now reporting all abortions performed in the state and including information on the types of abortion procedures used. South Carolina could improve its reports further by including additional information on the women undergoing abortion in the state, such as their race, marital status, level of education, and previous pregnancies – information it already collects and most of which is included in the national form for induced termination of pregnancy. In addition, the state could report the information it collects on its informed consent and parental consent processes. South Carolina could also collect and report whether any abortions result in complications and which types of complications occur.

 

Fig. 1

 

Fig. 2

 

  1. The number of chemical abortions performed in South Carolina is only available for 2017. The total number of abortions performed each year from 2012 to 2017 was provided to CLI upon request.
  2. The rates shown here are not comparable to the rates depicted in CLI’s summary of South Carolina’s 2016 abortion report. The 2016 rates are resident rates, reflecting the number of abortions performed on residents. The 2017 rates are occurrence rates, reflecting all abortions performed in the state. Rates were calculated by the Charlotte Lozier Institute using population estimates from the United States Census Bureau. The rates were calculated using the following formula: (total number of abortions performed in South Carolina ÷ number of resident women ages 15-44) x 1,000.

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