EXPLAINER: What the Metro Council resolution means for abortion access

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 6:19 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Pro-abortion activists have been applauding Metro Council for passing a resolution increasing access to abortion services for Metro employees, however, Gov. Bill Lee said it will not make a difference in the state law that is set to ban the procedure.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion was made illegal in Tennessee after six weeks and a trigger law is set to completely ban abortion within a month.

The resolution passed by Metro Council on Tuesday night asks the employee benefits board to offer abortion access benefits to all Metro employees. That includes providing transportation, accommodation and related cost when someone needs to travel out of state to receive a medical procedure.

“The intent of this legislation is to offer this protection for the individuals in Nashville and the people that we have the authority to offer this level of protection to,” Council Member Delishia Porterfield said. “No where in this legislation does it say we are overturning abortion.”

“I think the council can pass resolutions as they see fit,” Gov. Lee said. “These are very difficult subjects going forward. Lots of conversation around this country with where we are headed with this. But I feel very clear about what the law is, what the elected officials in this state have chosen to be the law and that is what will be followed in the state.”

Metro Police also released a statement after Nashville’s district attorney said they won’t prosecute women if they get an abortion. The question was then asked if they would act and simply put, they said that they were not abortion police.

“Without that (statement), what that means is that anyone who is seeking abortion and anyone who helps that person could be criminalized,” Tennessee Advocated for Planned Parenthood executive director Francie Hunt said. “It’s a felony to physicians. I know that physicians are very nervous because it’s a lot of gray area in terms of what they can provide healthcare to pregnant individuals.”

Hunt said Planned Parenthood has patient navigators that will assist people seeking an abortion to travel out of state. The Metro Council resolution will provide additional options and resources.

There are no longer any abortion providers in Davidson County, Hunt said. The one nearby six-week abortion pill provider is about to close and will completely cut off access. Hunt and other pro-abortion advocates are hopeful the Metro Council resolution will lead other cities and municipalities to pass similar protections.

“Protect our rights, protect us from any discrimination based on our reproductive outcomes,” Hunt said.

Lee said the state might have to weigh in on the prosecution of abortion cases in the future instead of every city and county having its own guidelines.

“I think the law is really clear in our state about what is going to be legal and what is not going to be in the future,” Gov. Lee said. That is going to change too as the trigger law goes into effect in a few weeks. I would just say it’s really clear what the law says, and it would be, that will be what will be followed in this state.”

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