May 14, 2021
Health and Education
WREN aims to be a collective force in identifying and reducing disparities that lead to low health and education performance indicators statewide. WREN recognizes that the health and education of women and children is crucial in order to ensure statewide prosperity. We advocate for policies that lower the barriers that families, predominantly women and mothers, face when accessing services, resources, and rights. Reproductive health is a strong focus of our advocacy and education efforts, and is supported through the Be the Voice campaign.
Education is also critical to enhancing the opportunities that women and girls have in our state. WREN advocates for affordable access to high-quality education, from early childhood development through post-secondary education, training, and certifications. We also advocate for girls’ and young women’s exposure and training to non-traditional career opportunities. We work to improve the quality and accessibility of information that will enable young people to delay pregnancy, protect their health, and increase their opportunities.
Why It Matters In SC
- South Carolina has a maternal health crisis for black mothers who are more than four times more likely to die in childbirth than white mothers.
- In 2015, about 1 in 5 infants (18.9% of live births) were born to a woman receiving inadequate prenatal care in South Carolina.
- Eleven of South Carolina’s 46 counties had no OB-GYN in 2016.
- 12% of females in South Carolina are uninsured.
- South Carolina’s healthcare system ranks 44th lowest in the nation, and its healthcare cost ranks 49th highest in the nation.
- Children who experience high-quality preschool are more likely to enter school prepared for success in academics and throughout their lives. Unfortunately, 70,000 South Carolina 3- and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in any preschool program. Many families struggle to afford early care and education, with an average child care cost of $1,181 per month. This problem is exacerbated for low-income families, who are often forced by limited resources to choose care based on affordability and/or convenience rather than quality. In South Carolina, 15 percent of these parents report their employment is affected by child care issues.
Paid Family Leave for State Employees (H. 3560 and S.11)
This bill would provide state employees with 12 weeks of paid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Paid family leave is crucial to supporting working families’ economic security and promoting gender equity in workplaces. No one should have to risk their job or face financial loss when they need to welcome a new child.
End Lunch Shaming Bill (H.3319)
This bill would provide equity in school lunches and protect students from punitive measures if they have accrued meal debt.
Pharmacy Access Act (S.628)
This bill would authorize pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives, which can make contraceptive care more accessible and affordable by eliminating the need for a separate visit to a health care provider to obtain a prescription. Expanding pharmacists’ scope of practice to include prescribing birth control helps alleviate many of the obstacles to finding and seeing a doctor that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Female Health and Wellness Act (H.3747 & S.574)
The Female Health and Wellness Act, H 3747, would exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. The removal of the tax on period products would alleviate the additional monthly expense of paying a luxury tax on a necessary medical product.
Confidentiality Bill (S.340 & H.4009)
This bi-partisan bill provides that non-profit sexual assault and domestic violence provider organizations are not required to disclose certain confidences acquired by clients during the provision of services to those clients. Certain exceptions are necessarily provided.
Paid Sick Leave Act (H.3469)
This bill would provide earned paid sick leave to employees statewide.
Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act (H.3225)
H.3225 would create an intentional study committee dedicated to addressing the disparities in Black maternal health that has buy-in from the legislative leaders in our state.
SC Minor Child Compassion and Protection Act (H.4047)
This bill would prohibit transgender people under the age of 18 from receiving essential medical care and create a school climate where they are unable to be themselves. The bill would make it a felony for medical professionals to provide transition-related care to transgender minors. Conviction could result in up to a 20-year prison sentence for the medical provider. The bill also requires teachers and staff at schools in South Carolina to share with students’ parents if they learn that a student’s “perception of [their] gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor's sex.” In effect, the bill essentially requires teachers to “out” transgender students to their parents, potentially before they are ready to share. A nearly identical bill is pending in Alabama.
“Save Women’s Sports” Acts H.4153, S.531, and H.3477
This dangerous bill would ostracize transgender students from their peers by banning their participation in interscholastic activities that align with their gender identity. Participation in gender-segregated activities would be determined by the student’s sex assigned at birth on their birth certificate. This bill would further stigmatize transgender youth and exclude them from the enormous physical, mental, and social benefits of playing sports.
Special Exemptions For Melting Plastics Industry (H.3753 and S.525)
WREN is committed to ensuring that all communities live in safe, healthy environments with the resources necessary to thrive because health does not begin and end at care and coverage. Good health and the decision of when or how to parent are intrinsically tied to other conditions, including access to safe drinking water, adequate housing, education, safe working conditions, and living free from violence. H.3753 and S.525 puts health and safety of communities at risk by removing the State’s authority to regulate pollution caused by plastic trash facilities.
6-Week Abortion Ban (S.1)
S.1 was passed by the South Carolina Legislature and signed into law by Governor McMaster on February 18th, 2021. A lawsuit was immediately filed against it and as a result, a federal judge issued an order blocking S.1 from taking effect. S.1 is not currently enforceable in South Carolina, abortion is still legal, and patients can still access abortion services in our state. S.1 was intended to ban abortion as early as 6 weeks, regardless of a pregnant person’s needs and circumstances. S.1 poses a serious threat to the health, freedom, and dignity of pregnant people. This was a far-reaching bill drafted by extremist politicians whose goal is to eliminate all abortion in South Carolina.