NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Birth control pills and family planning counseling could be free for Davidson County residents in a matter of weeks if a recently introduced bill stays on its current course.
The legislation, sponsored by Councilwoman Emily Benedict and co-sponsored by four others, would direct the Metro Public Health Department to make birth control pills, patches, injections and prophylactics free for all residents. The legislation does not include birth control implants, IUDs or other long-acting reversible contraceptives.
“Reproductive health is personal to everyone it is absolutely everything,” said one of the bill’s co-sponsors Councilwoman Ginny Welsch. “One thing can change your life massively, intrinsically, it can change the trajectory of your life.”
According to the legislation, Metro Health currently offers these services and the charges for them depend on residents’ income. Welsch hopes this bill will further eliminate barriers for everyone seeking contraceptives.
When asked if she believed this bill would potentially overburden Metro Health or if the funds going to this program would be better spent on nonprofits who also provide contraception to women in Middle Tennessee, Welsch said no.
“This is basic health care. That is the job of our health department to provide,” she said. Welsch added that Metro Health has been involved in the drafting of this bill and has not expressed any concerns to her knowledge regarding the language of it.
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Welsch says that there has been surprisingly little reaction from the community in support or opposition to the bill and believes it will easily go through second and third readings.
“I haven’t heard anything positive or negative about this bill from my colleagues or the community at large, I don’t think it will be difficult to get through. I think it will pass easily, I think it could pass by consent,” she said.
However, she added that it will most likely pass during the first council meeting in October.
The analysis of the bill states it will cost about $2,500,000 a year if all residents in Davidson County were to use it, but could cost $685,000 per year if 1,000 residents were to take advantage of this potential new program.
According to Metro Health, in 2022 there have been an average of 409 family planning patients each month across their three clinics.
According to the bill’s language, it will take effect immediately after passage.