COLUMBIA, S.C. — On Wednesday evening, Gov. Mark Sanford (R) signed into legislation a bill protecting same-sex couples’ rights to hospital visitation.

The law, an amendment to SC Code section 62-5-504(E), provides that a person who possesses a valid health care power of attorney form will be permitted hospital visitation. North Carolina took similar steps in April.

The North Carolina change was made to the state’s Patients’ Bill of Rights, adding a provision stating: “A patient has the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient’s immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient.”

The South Carolina law takes effect immediately.

SC Equality is urging those couples without existing healthcare power-of-attorney arrangements to fill out the necessary forms. They can download one at:

Forms are also available at most county Probate Courts. A list of those courts and contact information can be found at: