Tennessee Legislators Approve Ban on State-Backed Insurance Abortion Coverage
Both the Tennessee state House and state Senate passed a bill this week that would ban offering abortion coverage in the state's to-be-created health insurance exchange. If Governor Philip Bredesen (D) approves the bill, Tennessee will become the first state to legislate against the inclusion of abortion coverage in the state insurance changes created by the new health care package, reported CBS. The state Senate voted 27 to 3 in favor of the bill in a floor vote on Monday. The state House voted 70 to 23 in favor of the bill earlier this month.
The bill (see PDF), states that "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."
State Representative Joe Armstrong (D), who voted against the bill, told CBS that he did so in part because the bill did not include exceptions for the "life and health of the mother [or] for rape and incest."
Tennessee's Attorney General Robert Cooper released on opinion Tuesday clarifying the legislation passed by the legislature. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, his opinion clarified that the bill's definition of abortion would "not impact forms of birth control that may result in the expulsion of a fertilized egg before it is implanted in the uterine lining," thus allowing the insurance plans offered through the state insurance exchange to cover birth control pills, IUDs, and emergency contraception. The opinion also states that "on a case-by-case- basis, administration of mifepristone could constitute an 'abortion' if it were used after implantation of an embryo in the uterine lining."
Media Resources: Tennessee SB 2686; Tennessee State Legislature; CBS 4/21/10; National Partnership for Women and Families 4/21/10