Tennessee Gov. Lee Pitches Plan to Expand Support for Pregnancy Care Centers to $100 Million

Governor Bill Lee (R-TN) announced Monday during his State of the State address he would propose boosting support for women in unplanned pregnancies through various programs, including an expansion in funding for crisis pregnancy care centers to $100 million, widening Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women and parents, and granting additional paid family leave time for state employees.

Tennessee’s “trigger” law that bans abortion, titled the Human Life Protection Act, took effect August 25, two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“Pro-life is much more than defending the lives of the unborn,” Lee said during his address. “This is not a matter of politics. This is about human dignity. We can have a healthy debate about the policy specifics, but we can also agree that America is rooted in a commitment to human dignity.”

Lee noted that Tennessee has secured a Medicaid waiver agreement, “the only federally-approved waiver of its kind in the nation,” that “rewards a state for efficient, responsible management of taxpayer resources by awarding additional federal funds – known as shared savings – to serve the most vulnerable.”

The governor said, in its first year, the waiver allows Tennessee to receive more than $300 million of shared savings, “at no additional burden to Tennessee taxpayers.”

Lee said he hopes to use these savings to strengthen coverage for the postpartum period and to provide services to nearly 25,000 mothers, parents, and children.

“If approved, Tennessee will be the first Medicaid program in the nation to implement this kind of support,” he stated. “That’s pro-life. That’s pro-family.”

Pro-life pregnancy care centers, which provide educational, emotional, and material support for women in crisis pregnancies, would receive $100 million, according to Lee’s proposal.

The governor explained that, last year, the state budget funded ultrasound machines at crisis pregnancy centers throughout Tennessee.

“This year, I’m proposing a $100 million grant program to partner with nonprofits that serve mothers, fathers, and families during a crisis pregnancy,” he said, adding:

With that, our Office of Faith-Based Initiatives has a unique ability – and an important opportunity – to engage nonprofits and community organizations. I believe it’s time to equip them with the resources they need to play a bigger role, as we endeavor to better serve children and families.

Lee said families can be strengthened by ensuring parents can be home with a new baby during the first few months.

“If we can strengthen the bond between parents and children from the very first moments, we will have truly done something important,” he said. “That’s why I am proposing a commonsense paid parental-leave program for state employees who are growing their family.”

The governor clarified that he is not proposing a mandate on businesses, however.

“I believe every business owner should make decisions that are in the best interest of their employees,” he said. “Our state workers are critical to Tennessee’s success … A reasonable paid leave program will help us retain the best and brightest and help those who help our state, resulting in stronger families across Tennessee.”

Mark Lee Dickson, founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative, which works with local cities and towns in their pursuit of ordinances that ban abortion within their limits, told The Star News Network about a program of life-affirming services implemented in Texas that was added in a finding to the most recent Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinances passed in Odessa and Little River-Academy, Texas.

Dickson, who is also director of Right to Life of East Texas, explained:

The finding states, “In addition to the life-affirming services which are already being provided by organizations throughout our area, the Texas Alternatives to Abortion program is in place, which promotes childbirth and provides support services to pregnant mothers and their families, adoptive parents, and parents whose lives have been affected by miscarriage or loss of a child. The services provided as a part of the Alternatives to Abortion program include: counseling, mentoring, educational information and resources including classes on pregnancy, parenting, adoption, life skills and employment preparedness; material assistance covering basic needs, such as car seats, clothing, diapers, and formula; care coordination help through referrals to government assistance programs and other social services programs; call center for information and appointment scheduling; and housing and support services through maternity homes. The program is available to any Texas resident who is a United States citizen or legal immigrant and is: the biological mother or father of an unborn child, the biological mother or father of a child, for up to three years postpartum; the parent, legal guardian, or adult caregiver of a minor who is a program client; a parent who has experienced miscarriage or loss of a child; or an adoptive parent of a child of any age, for up to two years after adoption finalization. These services can be found at the Texas Pregnancy Care Network website at www.texaspregnancy.org.”

“Every state in America should follow the lead of Texas in providing funds, at a state level, which help mothers who have found themselves in an unexpected pregnancy,” Dickson said. “This year our state legislators are planning on increasing the amount of funding for pro-life pregnancy centers. Since Texas is an ever-growing state, I am hopeful that this is a program whose funding we increase every session, as needed, in accordance to our state’s growth.”

“The fact that we are seeing this replicated in states like Nebraska and Tennessee is evidence that other states are seeing how well this has worked for Texas and how this needs to be implemented elsewhere as well,” the pro-life leader said.

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Susan Berry, PhD is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]




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One Thought to “Tennessee Gov. Lee Pitches Plan to Expand Support for Pregnancy Care Centers to $100 Million”

  1. Joe Blow

    $100 million here a $100 million there, pretty soon Lee is talking real money.

    I support the pro-life movement, but I do NOT support nor trust Mr. Lee. It seems that in his mind the government is always the solution – sort of like Joe Biden. Now how does that fit with conservative values? I will answer my own question. IT DOES NOT.