Tennessee House Passes Bill to Opt Out of Abortion Funding in Obama Health Care Law
by Steven Ertelt
April 13, 2010
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — The Tennessee state House has approved legislation to have the state opt out of using state tax money to pay for abortions in state health care exchanges. The bill responds to the federal legislation Congress approved and President Barack Obama signed into law that includes massive taxpayer funding of abortion.
In a dramatic show of opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion, a strong bi-partisan majority of pro-life Tennessee House members passed HB 2681, which strictly limits the use of public funds in health exchanges mandated by the new federal health plan.
Lawmakers approved the bill, which helps protect pro-life Tennessee residents from some abortion funding, on a 70-23 vote.
The language of the measure states: "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."
Tennessee Right to Life worked feverishly for passage of the measure and told LifeNews.com it appreciates the victory.
"Tennessee is a strongly pro-life state," said Brian Harris, president of the pro-life group.
"Following years of a pro-abortion minority squelching the voices of the majority, our legislators have boldly expressed our state’s commitment to life," Harris said. "We thank each pro-life member for their leadership and their courage."
Harris praised Representative Hill and said he deserved commendation for pushing the much-needed measure through the legislature.
"Regardless of the attacks brought by pro-abortion activists, Rep. Hill remained focused on the mission of protecting unborn children and providing real help and alternatives to women and families in need," Harris said.
Hill himself said the bill is needed to ensure Tennessee taxpayers can get out of funding as many abortions as possible.
"The state has to take action on it to opt ourselves out of it so our tax money isn’t used for (abortion), he said previously. I feel it is extremely necessary because … we can continue to ensure our Tennessee tax money does not go to fund abortions at the federal level."
Under the new health care law, states will be in charge of their own health care exchanges that are available for individuals and small businesses. HB 2681 will keep any insurance plans on the Tennessee exchange from offering abortion coverage.
The exchange doesn’t go into effect until 2014 and states are filing lawsuits seeking to stop the pro-abortion health care bill in its other pro-abortion provisions entirety, but states are moving now to exercise their right to opt out of some of the abortion funding.
Americans United for Life and other pro-life groups are assisting legislators in other states and dozens may ultimately wind up voting on similar provisions over the coming months and years.
The Senate companion, SB 2686, will be heard in the Commerce committee on Wednesday where pro-life advocates hold a strong majority.
Public funding using state tax dollars is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest currently in Tennessee.
A Missouri Senate committee also approved a bill that would deny health insurance plans the ability to offer abortion coverage in any government exchange last month.
Related web sites:
Tennessee Right to Life – https://www.tnrtl.org
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