The state of Tennessee will no longer hand over tax payer dollars to Planned Parenthood, thanks to a new law that strips funding from the abortion giant and other providers.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill into law this week after it was passed by lawmakers in March. Rep. Jimmy Matlock, (R-Lenoir City) argued the state has given nearly $1 million to abortion facilities over the last six years; and, therefore has been indirectly funding abortions
The new measure will redirect TennCare funds to healthcare facilities that favor childbirth and planning services instead of abortion clinics.
"The governor…deferred to the will of the legislature on this bill as amended, and after reviewing the bill in its final form decided to sign the bill into law," Jennifer Donnals, Haslam's press secretary said in a statement.
Americans United for Life President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster praised lawmakers for the new law and counted it as a big win for the pro-life movement.
"Based on AUL's Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women's Health Act, this legislation prioritizes the funding of comprehensive healthcare facilities that can help women address a broad array of health issues that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are not equipped to handle," she said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood representatives in Memphis say the law is detrimental to women.
"This hurts patients. It prevents them from seeing a healthcare provider they choose. Specifically, in our area, reproductive healthcare is difficult to access for some people," Sarah Wallet, the Medical Director for Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis, told the Times Free Press. "There's a lot of stigma surrounding reproductive healthcare. This will especially hurt women of color."
"Governor Haslam and the General Assembly continue to demonstrate blatant disrespect and dismissal of patients' rights, which further discriminates against women, people of color, and people with low-incomes. This pushes the harmful and extremist agenda set forth by the Trump-Pence administration," added Francie Hunt, Executive Director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood argues that none of the money it gets from the state goes toward abortion services. Instead, the group says, it covers prenatal care, cancer screenings, treatments for STDs and other non-abortion related services.
Matlock acknowledged the funds do no go directly to abortions but argued it goes directly to clinics that do. He believes that "is a form of supporting abortions."
Sen. Mike Bell, the bill's sponsor, also emphasized the significance of the law.
"This bill is a statement," Bell said. "It's a statement from this legislative body. It's a statement from the people of Tennessee, that we want our money to stop going to providers that perform elective abortions."