Metro Council supports call for employee health coverage to include abortion access

Abortion–South Carolina
Posted at 7:57 PM, Jul 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-10 22:35:12-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — After the Supreme Court of the United States decision on Roe v. Wade, Mayor John Cooper and three councilwomen are calling on the Metro Employee Benefit Board to extend health coverage for employees to seek care out of state. During a meeting Tuesday night, council members voted unanimously to support the measure.

Back in late June, Councilwomen Burkley Allen, Delishia Porterfield and Erin Evans said the initiative would be for women's health care needs that they can no longer access in Tennessee. The benefit would include transportation accommodations and related costs. Councilwoman Joy Styles abstained from the vote because of a board affiliation. She is connected to the Hope Clinic for Women, which is a pro-life pregnancy center.

"We had a number of eloquent speeches in a related resolution. I will not be able to do justice that," Allen said. "As we know, there's a limit on reproductive health procedures. As a city that values life, we should respond to the Supreme Court ruling. There are times women have to make difficult choices. And that is sad. But they should do that safely."

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision enacted the six-week abortion ban law this week in Tennessee. Planned Parenthood providers performed their last abortion Tuesday in Tennessee. The legislation — known as the "heartbeat bill" — means abortions can't happen after a cardiac activity is detected on an ultrasound. Further trigger laws in Tennessee will go into effect in less than 30 days following the Human Life Protection Act voted on by the legislature in 2019.

"This is an important thing we get on body and support," Councilwoman Ginny Welsch said. "Women in Nashville and the state of Tennessee shouldn't have less access. We shouldn't have the rights of people being at the whim of an illegitimate court. We will provide that coverage. This is not a coverage that the City of Nashville pulled. When employees have needs, we will find a way to support those needs."

Several in the Metro Council audience supported the measures, waving up signs during the vote.

"Two weeks ago, I said to this body I will support any woman," Councilwoman Emily Benedict said. "I am with her. There's not one single person on this planet that should have dominion over any person's body. In that ilk, we should do all we can. I am committed to making sure that women in this city and my district have access to anything to have complete freedom over their body. This will help our Metro employees to have access to that."