Tenn. legislature passes bill to outlaw taxpayer-funded abortions

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- If Governor Bredesen signs the bill, Tennessee will become the first state to opt out of abortion mandates in the federal health care bill. But those who support abortion rights say the bill is much ado about nothing.

"There have not been state monies for abortions nor have there been any federal monies for abortion services, which is really an unfortunate thing," said Corrine Rovetti of the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health.

But Stacy Dunn of Tennessee Right to Life, which strongly supports the bill, says the State Legislature has sent a message and done the right thing.

"Our pro-life people here in Knox County and across the state are ecstatic that their voices have been heard so overwhelmingly," said Dunn.

Both the state house and senate approved the bill overwhelmingly, but one Representative who did not vote yes was District 15 Democrat Joe Armstrong.

"I felt that it was a total reduction of benefits to commercial, to people who had commercial insurance and no exceptions there for the life and health of the mother and no exceptions for rape and incest," Armstrong told WVLT.

Language in the bill says quote "No health care plan required to be established in the state through an exchange pursuant to federal health care reform legislation enacted by the 111th Congress shall offer coverage for abortion services."

"You would ask what our Legislatures have to do with their time if they're passing legislation that essentially just upholds what is already law and what is," said Rovetti.

Dunn said "The people of Tennessee were opposed to the health care reform package because it included abortion funding, so this is a huge step."

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