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Tennessee Senate passes bill blocking abortion spending for local governments

Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, said the bill stipulates it would have to be a “criminal abortion” according to state code in order for a local government to be punished.

Published: March 14, 2023 12:10pm

Updated: March 14, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

A bill to prevent local governments from using taxpayer funds on abortions or travel out of state to get abortions passed the Tennessee Senate.

Senate Bill 600 passed by a 27-6 margin despite objection from several Democratic senators.

“We already are in a situation where we have OB-Gyns moving out of the state,” said Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville. “To make it even more onerous for women in this situation seems indefensible to me. It’s really hard to be a woman in the state of Tennessee right now. I don’t see why we have to make it harder for women.”

Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, said the bill stipulates it would have to be a “criminal abortion” according to state code in order for a local government to be punished.

The punishment for using those funds would be an audit finding for improper use of funds. The bill comes after last year Metro Nashville council proposed a $500,000 grant to assist women getting an abortion outside of Tennessee but then amended the bill to make it a grant to Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi.

Sen. London Lamar, D-Memphis, again asked if the bill could risk funding for local hospitals.

“The damage would be to the local government, not the hospital,” Hensley said.

Hensley stated the current abortion exceptions in the law include if there is “risk to the life of the mother or serious bodily harm to the mother” but there are not exceptions for rape or incest, which are not mentioned in the code.

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