Thursday, January 12, 2023

Bill introduced in State House to prohibit Metro from assisting women in obtaining an abortion.

by Rod Williams, Jan. 12, 2023- Rep. Debra Moody, R-Collierville, has introduced House Bill 0090 which would prohibit local governments from assisting anyone in obtaining an abortion.  

I don't know if there are other governments other than Nashville that do this or not, but Nashville does. Following the Supreme Court's ruling overturning Roe v Wade, the Metro Council passed a resolution (SUBSTITUTE RESOLUTION RS2022-1734) appropriating $500,000 to Planned Parenthood, "for the purpose of funding a grant to Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi to provide comprehensive sexual health education in Nashville and Davidson County, and distribution of safer sex supply kits, family planning counseling, birth control counseling, and birth control products."

The money to pay for this was taken from a bunch of other departments including $90,000 from the Police. Police took the biggest hit, but Parks and libraries were among the other agencies hit the hardest. 

The resolution originally contained a provision to include funding for travel expenses for women in Davidson County so they could travel out of state to get an abortion. That provision was removed after Metro Legal expressed concern that it would threaten Title X funding. Title X prohibits government funds from being used for abortion. 

Even if HB0090 is passed, I don't know that what Metro Council did would be prohibited. I hope it is. In October when the Council appropriated money for Planned Parenthood, I wrote "I think it may be time for the State to step in and act to prohibit Metro from funding abortions through the back door."

While there is little doubt that "family planning counseling" will include counseling women on how to get an abortion, I don't know if that would constitute Metro "assisting anyone in obtaining an abortion." It should.  Before we would know that, the bill would most likely have to pass and then be tested in court  to see if Metro's funding of Planned Parenthood constituted "assisting women in obtaining an abortion."

Passage of HB0090 might inhibit Metro from going even further. With a Democrat in the White House, the Federal Government may be lax in enforcing Title X provisions. If the federal government fails to enforce Title X, then Metro may decide it is safe to fund travel expenses for those seeking an abortion. HB0090 would clearly prohibit that. HB0090 needs to pass.

To read the bill see House Bill 0090. For more on the Council's funding of Planned Parenthood, see this link, and this link

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