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Nashville mayor, councilwomen call for employee health coverage to include abortion access

Supreme Court Abortion Protests Tennessee
Posted at 7:44 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 23:15:01-04

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.

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.

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.

"Last week, the Supreme Court overturned 50 years of precedent and took away a fundamental right for millions of people across the country, including hundreds of thousands right here in Nashville," Cooper said. "While our options to protect the right to choose in Nashville are limited by current law, we must do everything we can to continue providing access to health care and safe, affordable care for those who need. I'm proud to be advocating for all Metro employees to have this essential benefit."

The resolution will go before Metro Council, and it will for the benefit board to assess the availability of benefits providing transportation and accommodation to obtain medical treatment not offered in Tennessee.

Already this week, Porterfield spoke out about her resolution that would ask the Metro Nashville Police Department to make abortion cases a low-level priority.

"The Dobbs decision will disproportionally impact families from working-class and lower socio-economic backgrounds, and I am grateful this proposed action will provide much-needed support for Metro employees, who may not have the means to travel for out-of-state procedures.

Evans said that a week ago Metro employees had the medical benefits that guaranteed access to safe and legal abortion services whenever medically necessary.

"No one ever wants to endure the agonizing choice, but knowing there was access to reproductive healthcare was of enormous comfort to women everywhere," Evans said. "Last Friday, the Supreme Court unilaterally removed that right and security. If the council can provide an alternative for thousands of Metro government employees who no longer have that choice, we should do just that."

Metro Council next meets July 5.