Tennessee state Senators strongly supported a bill Thursday to defund Planned Parenthood and other groups that do abortions.
The bill, which passed in a 24-2 vote, would direct the state to request a federal government waiver to completely defund abortion facilities in the state from TennCare, the state Medicaid program, the Tennessean reports. The state House passed the bill earlier this month.
State Sen. Mike Bell defended the bill on the Senate floor.
“We have dozens of other medical clinics,” Bell said. “This is not a cut. It is the policy of the state to favor child birth as an integral part of the health and the welfare of the state.”
House sponsor, state Rep. Jimmy Matlock, previously said he found that Planned Parenthood received about $108,100 in taxpayer dollars, including about $11,000 directly from the state, the Tribune News Service and KATU News report.
However, a U.S. Government Accountability Office report found even more. According to the report, Tennessee sent $400,000 taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood in 2014.
Matlock said his bill would cut off any remaining state tax dollars to abortion groups in the state.
On Thursday, several Senate Democrats tried to claim the bill would drastically reduce access to health care in Tennessee.
According to the report:
But Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, criticized a part of the measure that would also cut non-abortion health care services provided at some locations where elective abortions are performed.
He and Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, said that although the bill seeks to prevent abortions, the proposal could lead to more abortions as it could could prevent some women from receiving medical services at their current providers. …
Bell responded that no funds would be eliminated, only redirected.
He said health care providers that would stop receiving funding if the measure passes, could stop proving abortions and not be affected.