NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee’s governor wants to allocate millions in state funds for a grant program to support anti-abortion centers in the state.
“A $100 million grant program to partner with nonprofits that serve mothers, fathers, and families during a crisis pregnancy,” Gov. Bill Lee announced during his State of the State address.
These facilities are often called “crisis pregnancy centers” and some medical associations warn they often give out misleading or false information, but Kailey Cornett with Hope Clinic for Women in Nashville says they are upfront about the services they do and don’t offer.
“We are helping them make a decision that lines up with their values system and then we are going to help them live that out,” said Cornett.
If it’s approved by the General Assembly, Tennessee would spend more on these centers than nearly any other state, according to UGA associate professor of public health Andrea Swartzendruber.
“This amount of funding from a single state in a single year is extraordinary,” Swartzendruber said. “And to my knowledge, the most funding that any state has provided in such a short time frame to the centers.”
The Hope Clinic sees this potential funding as a way to help even more women by providing more ultrasounds, STD testing, clothes and diapers for newborns and pregnancy counseling.
“We are giving fish and loaves in the form of diapers and cribs, and if they want to have a faith conversation as we grow into a relationship we can lean into that,” Cornett said.
Under the “abortion” section of the Hope Clinic website, there are recommended questions for women to ask themselves questions like:
- What were my beliefs about abortion before I got pregnant?
- How does abortion fit with my values?
- Is abortion a decision I could live with long-term?
- How will it affect my future choices?
“If a woman still decides to terminate her pregnancy, that is her decision and there is nothing we can do to stop her, but what we can provide is professional counseling,” Cornett said.
Swartzendruber says while many of these facilities offer free or reduced-price diapers, clothes, cribs, car seats, and other gifts for new families, there is a non-monetary price to using these services.
“Crisis pregnancy centers not only oppose abortion, their primary mission is to prevent people from having an abortion,” Swartzendruber said.
She said, over the course of her and her team’s research on crisis pregnancy centers, they found at times these centers conduct limited ultrasounds, offer STD testing but not counseling if the test comes back positive and don’t always have medical professionals on staff.
In addition, medical groups like the American Public Health Association say these clinics have been found to, “distribute misleading, medically inaccurate, and false information.”
The Hope Clinic says they have read these criticisms of crisis pregnancy centers and say they’re always upfront and honest with their patients, work with people of all different backgrounds, and are frequently praised for being nonjudgmental and supportive.
Cornett also said they have multiple registered nurses and nurse practitioners on staff and the clinic is overseen by an OB-GYN.
“At Hope Clinic, we pride ourselves on being outside the politics. What that means is we are boots on the ground serving women in crisis,” Cornett said. “We want to be pro-life in this whole personhood sense.”
The governor’s budget is a proposal and needs to be approved by the legislature.