South Carolina editorial roundup
The Associated Press
Jul. 12, 2018
Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Post and Courier of Charleston on Gov. Henry McMaster vetoing $15 million for funding birth control, prenatal care and annual exams for low-income South Carolinians:
If you want to reduce the number of abortions performed each year, a logical starting point would be to protect access to birth control and other family planning services.
But if you're a politician looking to score points during an election year, common sense doesn't figure into such equations.
Gov. Henry McMaster proved that Thursday when he vetoed nearly $16 million intended to fund birth control, prenatal care and annual exams for poor South Carolinians — all in the name of blocking a sliver of that money from going to abortion-provider Planned Parenthood.
It's a bad decision that, if it holds, likely will lead to even more abortions. The Legislature needs to override the governor's veto as soon as possible.
The state's former Medicaid director, Tony Keck, was one of the first to point out the flawed logic in Mr. McMaster's decision.
"Reducing access to birth control will increase unwanted pregnancies and increase abortions," said Mr. Keck, who was Medicaid director under then-Gov. Nikki Haley. "You can't have it both ways."
The veto, which struck $2.2 million in state Medicaid money and the accompanying $13.6 million in federal funds, was decried as partisan politics by abortion advocates. South Carolina's Medicaid agency has spent more than $40 million on family planning services since 2015. Planned Parenthood has received between $32,000 and $83,000 of that annually.
Opposing Planned Parenthood is one thing. But federal law prohibits using tax money to fund abortions except in cases of rape, incest or saving the mother's life. In the few abortions funded under those situations in South Carolina, none of them were done at a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Since there is not a line item for Planned Parenthood in South Carolina's $8 billion budget for 2018-19, the veto served a political, rather than a practical, purpose. And low-income women would be hurt by it.
The veto appears to be another unfortunate solution in search of a problem. Mr. McMaster was a cheerleader for a bill outlawing "sanctuary cities" despite the fact that none exist in South Carolina and — unlike liberal states such as California — it is extremely unlikely any would be established here.
It's too bad that Mr. McMaster has chosen this road. He has demonstrated leadership on some critical issues since succeeding Ms. Haley, including his responses to the opioid abuse crisis and the nuclear plant fiasco. But it would be more helpful if he would leave the pandering behind and devote even more time and political capital to addressing the myriad real problems facing South Carolina.
For now, it's likely that some of the increased number of women cut off from birth control by the governor's action would likely become pregnant and be forced into making the heartbreaking decision of whether to seek an abortion. The action also gives fuel to political opponents' claims that he's specifically attacking poor people, which is unlikely. They just happen to be the collateral damage of politics.
Perhaps Mr. McMaster is counting on the Legislature to override his veto, so he can say he kept his campaign promise to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood but was stymied by state lawmakers.
What is clear is that in his rigid adherence to an ill-conceived campaign promise, a governor who professes to oppose abortion likely has created the conditions for even more of them to occur.
The Legislature must step in to prevent this potential tragedy.
Index-Journal of Greenwood on a World Wars I and II memorial's segregated plaques being replaced with ones listing the dead alphabetically:
Trey Ward on Saturday humbly downplayed his role in changing the plaques on Greenwood's war memorial, plaques that have for years segregated the county's war dead from World Wars I and II by race — "colored" and "white" — when honored by Greenwood Democrats.
Indeed, Ward is not a hero, at least not in the same sense as those whose names are on the war memorial's plaques. And he would certainly agree that, despite the use of the word "bravery" applied to him by the Democrats who honored him Saturday, he falls well short of that term's true definition when compared with those listed on the plaques.
Still, that does not lessen the significance of what Ward did in removing the old plaques and replacing them with ones that listed the war dead alphabetically. It was beyond what Ward labeled a moral imperative — although we'd have to agree that all involved who wanted the plaques changed were driven by that same moral imperative.
By turning "some screws on a plate" Ward also turned — detoured is perhaps a better term — the path the battle over the plaques was heading. Even after Judge Frank Addy's ruling in May, which essentially said the state's Heritage Act held no sway over a privately owned memorial put up by American Legion Post 20, the plaque war was not over. House Speaker Jay Lucas, Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant and state Attorney General Alan Wilson quickly filed an appeal of that decision, saying it would have an impact on other monuments across the Palmetto State.
Their stance changed with Ward's turning of the screws and the trio dropped the case. Their attorneys wrote, "The plaques were replaced by a person not a party to this case and, thus, the case was mooted by a non-party without regard to the actual legal issues pending in this case."
It has taken a lot of maneuvering to bring about a simple but needed editing of the world war plaques in Uptown Greenwood. We still disagree that the editing amounts to rewriting history. No names of war dead were falsely added or surreptitiously deleted from the plaques. A visitor to Greenwood's Uptown would, however, read the plaques and easily reach one conclusion about why some war dead were listed under headings that segregated them by skin color. The history behind the old plaques — that during the world wars our military was, in fact, segregated — can better be explained by placing them in the Veterans Center where the old county library once housed many history books. What better place than there for them to find a new home, complete with detailed information about how our military came to be segregated and then, finally, desegregated.
Rather than the war memorial raising more questions and concerns than doing what it was intended to do, it will now more forthrightly serve its actual purpose of honoring those from Greenwood County who served and died for their country.
For his role in making this happen, we join in thanking Trey Ward for turning some screws and finishing the groundwork laid by Larry Jackson, Claude Maus, Dale Kittles, Thomas Waller, Terry Weeks and Welborn Adams.
The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg on WalletHub.com ranking South Carolina the worst state in the nation for road fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel:
South Carolina doesn't do well in rankings for personal safety.
A study by the personal-finance website WalletHub.com ranked the state as the 10th least safe. (https://wallethub.com/edu/safest-states-to-live-in/4566/)
WalletHub compared the 50 states across 48 metrics. The data set ranges from assaults per capita to unemployment rate to total loss amounts from climate disasters per capita.
With a ranking of 1 being safest and 25 as average, here's where the Palmetto State ranks:
. 16th - Bullying incidence rate
. 18th - Job security
. 18th - Law enforcement employees per capita
. 32nd - Fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 full-time workers
. 36th - Loss amounts from climate disasters per capita
. 38th - Share of uninsured population
. 43rd - Murders and non-negligent manslaughters per capita
. 43rd - Assaults per capita
As distressing as the rankings are, the most distressing is from the road. South Carolina is 50th, the worst in the nation, for fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel. Already this year, nearly 500 people have been killed on the state's roads.
If the rankings and the death totals are not enough to convince you, we restate: The risks are real.
And here is another sobering statistic. Allstate Insurance used 2013 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records to provide a different perspective, finding that drivers average about one accident per decade.
There are simple steps that can be taken to reduce your risks.
Buzzed driving: The sobering reality of drunk driving is that it is obviously a dangerous behavior, yet too often drivers get behind the wheel with alcohol in their bloodstream, impairing judgment and slowing reaction time. Don't do it.
Distracted driving: Commute in any populated area and you're bound to see people driving too slowly, occasionally weaving while talking on the phone. Don't do it.
Speed: A speed limit exists for a reason, and it isn't just to be a broken. Obey the law.
Parking lots: It's important to be on alert when you're driving in the parking lot. Most people behind the wheel are so focused on finding a parking spot that they aren't watching what else is going on. Don't be one of them.
Drive the right car: In addition to being conscientious with your driving behavior, choosing a good-performing car with excellent safety marks and proven reliability can further reduce your risks. Do it.
The key points are to obey traffic laws, be predictable, avoid distractions, drive rested, and steer clear of alcohol and drugs. Do these and you'll help make the roads safer for all.