Tennessee: Pro-life, Until You're Born

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It's a cliche, that "pro-life" policies only apply to the unborn. But it's a cliche with a foundation of truth. And so here we are, WBIR reporting that, as a result of Governor Haslam's telling departments they need to make more cuts to their budgets, TennCare is talking about cutting its $2.25 million perinatal grant (which is then matched by Medicaid) that helps support NICUs across the state.

"Babies who are born anywhere between 23 and 25 weeks can be anywhere from $500,000 to a $1 million baby. So if we were to prevent four or five of those across the state, we would save the money for this grant. So it's money well spent," Dr. [Mark Gaylord, medical director for the UT Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit] said.

Tennessee ranks as one of the worst states for infant mortality. According to Dr. Gaylord, those numbers are improving but about 13 percent of babies in the state are still born premature.

I'm as pro-choice as they come. I think you should be able to have an abortion whenever you want for whatever reasons you want and I don't care about reducing the number of abortions. But I know I'm an outlier position. And, if you truly want to reduce the number of abortions in this state, well, we know why people, by and large, have abortions—because they can't afford another child (yes, most people who have abortions are mothers already). Our state claims to be majority "pro-life," but we do not walk the walk. Putting some words in the Constitution? Oh, sure, we have time for that. Making sure that, when a woman sits down with her doctor and the doctor says, "This is going to be a high-risk pregnancy and you may deliver very prematurely," that the woman has the resources she needs to carry the pregnancy as far as she can and then receive the medical support she needs when the baby is born?

Oh, well, you know, we need to cut the budget. We have these philosophies, which we're willing to constrain you by, but we, ourselves, aren't willing to constrain the government by those same philosophies.

When people lose faith in their government, I think that it's things like this that are the reason why — it's not that the government holds positions you disagree with. It's that the government isn't constrained by the rules it sets for you. You have to be "pro-life," meaning you are dissuaded at every turn from having an abortion, but, if you're "pro-life," meaning that you want to try to have a baby, even when the pregnancy is at risk, our state doesn't prioritize making that happen. It's not "pro-life" when it comes to your wanted child.

It's really disheartening.

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