Democrat calls for increased security at three abortion clinics

Mia McLeod
Mia McLeod

A Democratic state representative asked GOP Gov. Nikki Haley on Monday to increase security at the three clinics in South Carolina that provide abortions following last week’s deadly shootings at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, our focus right now should be to make sure what happened in Colorado Springs doesn’t happen” in South Carolina, said Rep. Mia McLeod of Columbia, a three-term House member who’s running for an open Senate seat in 2016.

“We need increased security at South Carolina clinics now,” she added, without being specific.

McLeod called on the governor to coordinate with state and local law enforcement to monitor clinics in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville.

Haley’s office said the governor’s already doing that. Officials with the State Law Enforcement Division and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have told Haley there are “no known threats” to Planned Parenthood in the Southeast, said her spokeswoman, Chaney Adams.

“The governor will continue to communicate with law enforcement to make sure we do everything we can to keep all South Carolinians safe, as violence is never acceptable in our state,” Adams said.

Robert Dear, a 57-year-old former South Carolina resident, is accused of opening fire Friday at a clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing three people and injuring nine others. Colorado Springs police have declined to disclose any information on his motive.

“I’m afraid some of the rhetoric being tossed around by some South Carolina politicians may motivate someone here at home to try the same thing,” McLeod said.

Her request comes a day before a House Oversight panel, on which she sits, holds its next hearing on abortion clinics in the state. The panel’s investigation was among several launched by Republicans following the release last summer of secretly taped videos showing Planned Parenthood officials in other states discussing the collection of fetal organs for research.

Planned Parenthood officials have repeatedly said none of the organization’s clinics in the South Atlantic region – which includes the Carolinas, West Virginia and much of Virginia – participates in fetal tissue collection.

Of the three abortion clinics in South Carolina, Planned Parenthood operates only the one in Columbia.

In August, Haley asked the state’s public health agency to investigate the clinics, starting with Planned Parenthood. Less than a month later, the Department of Health and Environmental Control suspended the licenses of two of the clinics and fined them a combined $10,250. Ultimately, sanctions were lifted and neither had to close.

On Nov. 12, the agency’s director told the House panel it’s pursuing additional fines that could amount to nearly $51,000.

Republicans have applauded the agency’s new director for tightening up on inspections.

Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, noted at the last hearing that the investigations have found nothing even close to the allegations that prompted the Oversight Committee to launch its own review.