Tennessee is the first state to declare that any health care plan exchanges set up by ObamaCare may not offer abortion coverage:
“No health care plan required to be established in this state through an exchange pursuant to federal health care reform legislation enacted by the 111th Congress shall offer coverage for abortion services.”
The legislation passed by impressive margins: 70 to 23 in the House and 27-3 in the Senate.
“At the end of the day this is very simple,” said House sponsor, Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough), before House passage on April 12. “Do your constituents want their tax money going to kill unborn babies? It’s as simple as that.”
Tennessee Right to Life commended both sponsors and their pro-life colleagues. “Tennessee is a strongly pro-life state, and with principled pro-life leadership in both chambers, we are finally able to restore some common sense balance to this state’s policies,” said Brian Harris, president of the state’s oldest and largest pro-life organization.
“Until the voters are able to undo some of the damage brought by activist judges, there are few statutes that we can pass and enforce,” Harris said, referencing the 2000 ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist, which identified a fundamental right to abortion in the Tennessee Constitution.
“We’re hopeful, however, that the protection of Tennessee’s taxpayers to not be forced to fund elective abortions is one that will clearly meet muster,” said Harris.
The vote to remove abortion funding from government-backed health exchanges follows other abortion votes this session in which pro-life legislative majorities moved decisively, including passage of bills to defund Planned Parenthood, to require abortion providers to post the state’s non-coercion policy and to bring a public vote on SJR 127 in 2014 allowing voters to decide whether or not the Tennessee Constitution protects a right to abortion.
“Having legislative leaders who actually represent the views and voices of their pro-life constituents has made all the difference,” said Harris. “It also highlights the critical importance of next fall’s elections here in Tennessee.”
Tennessee is a model of how state pro-life groups can successfully fight pro-abortion provisions in ObamaCare. Every pro-life group should be pressing for similar legislation to be passed in each state of the Union.