Two abortion bills pass, three fail in 2018 Tenn. legislative session

May 10, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  The State of Tennessee is waiting for a waiver from the federal government that will allow it to end all TennCare Medicaid payments to abortion providers.

The state withdrew all public funding for abortion procedures in 2011. But state health care dollars have continued to flow to organizations like Planned Parenthood to support other forms of medical treatment for women.

During debate on this latest abortion bill, Republican Rep. Mike Bell argued that taxpayers should not be asked to pay for any medical service provided by organizations that also perform abortions.

“I found in research that nearly $1 million state dollars have been paid to abortion clinics in Tennessee in the form of TennCare reimbursements over the last six years. This money is a form of supporting abortions.”

But Nashville Democrat Jeff Yarbro responded that pulling funding for non-abortion medical care puts the health of Tennessee women at risk.

“Why would we want to limit, and cut back, on the number of providers where women can get a well woman visit.”

Before the state can withdraw the funding, it first has to get a waiver from the federal government, which provides most of the health care dollars.

The Tenncare waiver bill was one of five abortion related measures introduced in this year’s just ended legislative session. Three of those measures failed in committee.

The other proposal to get the approval of lawmakers was a bill that requires abortion providers to offer a woman seeking the procedure a chance to look at an ultrasound of the fetus and hear the fetal heartbeat.

As introduced, the TennCare bill and the ultrasound bill would have placed far more stringent restrictions on abortions in Tennessee, but both were heavily amended prior to passage.