ISSUE SPILLS INTO GOVERNOR’S RACE
The “Republican” primary for governor of South Carolina is still more than a year away, but the battle lines in this surprisingly competitive race are already being drawn.
And shots are already being fired on hot-button issues.
Earlier this week, S.C. lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant – who is rumored to be eying a 2018 gubernatorial bid – waded into the debate over funding for abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
Bryant said forthcoming budgets should not “contain a penny” of money for Planned Parenthood, and he threatened to use his authority as presiding officer of the State Senate to block them if they did.
In anticipation of Bryant’s press event this week, S.C. governor Henry McMaster issued his own Planned Parenthood missive. Specifically, McMaster sent a letter to his appointees on the board of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) asking them to “reaffirm” their opposition to federal funding of this organization, which was implicated in a gruesome fetal body parts scam back in 2015.
Both moves drew a rebuke from former SCDHEC director Catherine Templeton, herself an announced 2018 GOP gubernatorial candidate. According to Templeton, she and former S.C. governor Nikki Haley already shut down Planned Parenthood funding in the Palmetto State.
“Governor Haley and I already addressed this,” Templeton tweeted. “SC doesn’t (and didn’t on our watch) fund Planned Parenthood.”
Templeton grew up in the Midlands region of South Carolina, but the labor lawyer’s political base is in Charleston, S.C. There, politicians not only support Planned Parenthood – they help raise money for the organization.
Is her characterization accurate? Former state representative Donna Hicks – who led the legislative battle to defund Planned Parenthood two years ago- tells us Templeton is not being completely honest. According to her, Haley had several opportunities in the aftermath of the fetal body parts scam to defund Planned Parenthood in the Palmetto State – but refused to do so.
“The governor’s staff told me that she wouldn’t stop the funding because they feared it would invite lawsuits,” Hicks told us. “They acknowledged the funding, they just said it wasn’t being used directly for abortions – only reimbursements for things covered under Medicaid.”
Hicks said she will continue to push for defunding even though she is no longer a member of the legislature.
“We can stop this money,” she told us.
A source close to Templeton’s campaign disputed that contention, though, saying Hicks was confusing state funds with federal funds.
Our view on all this? As we’ve said from the beginning, we believe life is the one indispensable liberty. If you don’t support it, then you can’t say you support the other liberties. When it comes to that basic premise, we believe Bryant, McMaster and Templeton are all solidly pro-life candidates – as are the other “Republicans” who may jump into this race.
As this early political skirmish makes clear, though, there will be no shortage of parsing when it comes to the nuances of the pro-life debate.
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