A Tennessee state representative is moving forward with legislation to defund the abortion chain Planned Parenthood in his state.
State Rep. Jimmy Matlock announced his plan to draft the bill last week, just after Tennessee won a major pro-life victory in federal appeals court.
Matlock told the Citizen Tribune that he believes the bill will have strong support from the public and the legislature.
“The supermajority of Republicans who by their definition are pro-life, this is very much a pro-life issue, and even those that might not be as strongly pro-life as me would sure be offended at state dollars are used in such a way,” he said. “I think even people who wouldn’t be maybe as passionate about the sanctity of life as I am, that they would say, ‘Hey, we don’t need to be putting state dollars into an area that is so repulsive to the majority of Tennesseans.’”
While Tennessee defunded Planned Parenthood of Title X tax dollars in 2011, Matlock said the abortion chain’s Tennessee branch still receives taxpayer funds. Between 2011 and 2015, he said it used about $108,100 in taxpayer dollars, with about $11,000 of that coming directly from the state, the Tribune News Service and KATU News report.
“It was told to us that there wasn’t actual dollars that have been moved into Planned Parenthood. We always knew that wasn’t correct,” he said.
He said his bill would cut off any remaining state tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, which does more abortions than any other group in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice currently is investigating whether Planned Parenthood illegally sold aborted baby body parts.
Specifically, Matlock said the bill will put a prohibition on taxpayer funding to abortion groups into state code.
Here’s more from his interview with the Citizen Tribune:
“… It just seemed to be the right time to really have this thing put in code so it’s done, over with, off the table and we don’t have to concern ourselves with it. It’s just going to be state statute.”
Matlock said the bill is being sent through legal channels in the legislature to ensure a word or phrase doesn’t cause holdups.
“It is important that we get that correct, I certainly agree, but for those that might want to go after the issue and they try to find a word that’s misplaced or hard to somehow be understood, we’re trying,” Matlock said. “… In the process, as you know, the bills are filed, there’s going to be people who want to amend or change — and sometimes that’s for the better. Most times it’s used as a ploy to slow down or even sabotage a piece of legislation. Both sides do it, it’s just the kind of game they play. So that’s why we’re trying to say early on this is our intent, we’re going to be very open about it.
“This is why we think it’s critical to be put into statute and in going forward there won’t be this ambiguity between bureaucrats over what does it mean or what does it say,” he added.
The FRC Action PAC, which is connected with the Family Research Council, endorsed the legislation, Matlock said.
“… I will stand for the sanctity of life, religious freedom and family values in Washington and look forward to working to defund Planned Parenthood — the nation’s largest provider of abortions — both in Tennessee and in D.C.,” he said.
His announcement came soon after the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a victory for life in Tennessee. Last week, the federal appeals court upheld a 2014 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution. The amendment reads: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.”
The amendment allows state lawmakers to pass new life-affirming laws that courts previously would have overturned under language in the state constitution.