South Carolina Democratic House candidate Annie Andrews slammed Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) Wednesday for “bigoted attacks” through campaign ads accusing Andrews of treating children as young as 4 years old with gender-affirming care.
Andrews, who works at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, said she is now taking unpaid leave from her job and has increased security because of Mace’s ads.
“The most dangerous kind of politician is one who is worried for their political life. And Nancy Mace must be absolutely terrified of losing in November,” Andrews said in a statement. “I knew politics would be ugly but I never thought I’d see the day when my own congresswoman would accuse me — a pediatrician for over a decade — of ‘child abuse.'”
The Hill has reached out to Mace’s office for comment.
Andrews is running in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District against Mace, who assumed office last year.
Mace began airing her ads blasting Andrews for “child abuse” this month. In one campaign ad, Mace accuses Andrews of treating children who want to undergo a gender transition with puberty blockers, gender changing hormones and sex change surgery.
In another, Mace’s campaign team says Andrews pressured South Carolina’s government and hospitals to allow gender-affirming care for children.
“Lowcountry parents know better,” the ad says. “Our children are too precious to be indoctrinated with Annie Andrews’s bizarre agenda.”
Andrews denied the allegations on Wednesday, explaining she is a licensed pediatrician while Mace is engaging in the most “shameful, dishonest, and pathetic gutter-style campaign I have ever witnessed.”
“I do not support gender affirming surgery for anyone under 18 — nor does my hospital perform those procedures. What I support is evidenced-based medical care, with parental consent, for teens struggling with gender identity issues,” Andrews said in her statement, adding she does not practice gender-affirming care but has supported transgender youth “who have attempted suicide.”
Gender-affirming care has become a sticking point for Republicans, who have accused Democrats who support transgender youth care of child abuse, sexualizing children and grooming.
Republican-led states across the country have enacted strict laws around gender identity and sexual orientation.
This week, thousands of Virginia students led a walkout to protest Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) policies requiring parental approval for pronoun changes and restricting from which bathrooms transgender youth can use.
Andrews on Wednesday said the ads forced her to take the precautionary step of taking unpaid leave from the Jenkins Children’s Hospital and increase security while she considers legal action.
She cited threats made against doctors and the Boston Children’s Hospital this year, including a bomb threat, after the medical facility was falsely accused of supporting gender-affirming care for youth under 18 years old.
The Democratic candidate says she refuses to “back down to these abhorrent attacks” but also pleaded with Mace to stop the ads.
“As a Mother and a human being, If you have even a shred of dignity left, I ask that you stop these desperate attacks and start behaving like someone our kids can look up to,” Andrews said in her statement. “Is this job in Congress really worth throwing away your self-respect? Are those Fox News appearances that important to your ego? Are Lowcountry children really that expendable to you?”
“If that’s not possible, or if your political career is truly more important than basic human decency, then your defeat in November is more important than it has ever been,” she added. “And I look forward to reminding the Lowcountry what it’s like to have a representative with a moral compass.”