Aug 26, 2022 - Politics

Nashville leaders propose funding out-of-state abortions

Illustration of Nashville City Hall with lines radiating from it.
Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

On the day Tennessee's strict abortion ban took effect, Metro Council members unveiled a plan to financially support residents who leave the state for abortions.

  • At the same time, Vanderbilt University Medical Center said it was making policy changes to address "health equity concerns" surrounding the new law.

Driving the news: The proposal from Councilmembers Delishia Porterfield, Freddie O'Connell, Sandra Sepulveda, Bob Mendes, Emily Benedict and Ginny Welsch was announced at a press conference Thursday.

  • Their plan also calls for funding comprehensive sex education as well as safe sex supplies and information.
  • If approved, it would cost $500,000.

Why it matters: Dedicating city funding for abortion access is the progressive council members' way of pushing back against Tennessee's sweeping abortion ban, which took effect Thursday.

  • Council already asked the city's benefits board to add out-of-state abortion access to Metro employees' health benefits plans.

What she's saying: "Reproductive rights and access to healthcare are basic human rights and we won't stand by quietly as our rights are stripped away," Porterfield says.

The latest: VUMC issued an internal statement Thursday saying the Tennessee abortion ban "will likely further exacerbate" existing health care disparities.

  • "The rate of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality in Tennessee is among the highest in the country," the statement read. "Women of color and who are socioeconomically disadvantaged are at the greatest risk. …"
  • "VUMC has instituted policy changes intended to mitigate some of the health care and health equity concerns that are anticipated due to this new law."
  • A spokesperson would not provide additional details on any new policy changes.

Between the lines: More than three out of four pregnancy-associated maternal deaths in Tennessee in 2020 were preventable, according to an April state Health Department report to the General Assembly.

  • Non-Hispanic Black women were 2½ times more likely to die than white women, the report found.
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