TN GOP Governor Bill Lee suggests taxpayers have 'moral obligation' to pay for anti-abortion centers: report

TN GOP Governor Bill Lee suggests taxpayers have 'moral obligation' to pay for anti-abortion centers: report

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, announced plans this week to allocate $100 million in taxpayer funds towards the state's anti-abortion centers through a grant program "he wants to create," the Associated Press reports.

A board member with Tennessee-based crisis pregnancy center, Hope Clinic for Women, Lee suggested "the state had a 'moral obligation' to support families," according to AP.

“Pro-life is much more than defending the lives of the unborn,” Lee said. “This is not a matter of politics. This is about human dignity.”

READ MORE: It's not just Trump: Midterms show the religious right is an albatross around the GOP’s neck

The governor announced his plan, which was met with both applause from GOP colleagues and protest from Democratic colleagues, during the governor's annual State of the Union address. However, AP reports the governor was met with resistance from a top Tennessee GOP official.

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-25th District) adamantly objects to the extremity of the governor's abortion law, which is known to be one of the "strictest in the U.S." Sexton argues "the law should be changed" to include exceptions.

Ignoring the calls to amend the legislation, the governor said during his speech, “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. There was a significant shift in this country last year when it comes to protecting the lives of the unborn. We now all have an opportunity and a moral obligation to support strong Tennessee families.”

State Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson (13th District) tweeted about her objection to Lee's proposal.

READ MORE: Anti-abortion Republicans have 'learned nothing' from their midterms disappointments: columnist

“It’s embarrassing that Gov. Bill Lee made a smart (aleck) comment during the state of the state directed at women upset that they no longer are considered equal in this state. Dissent is not incivility," Johnson wrote.

She continued, "This is a very small and thin skinned Governor who believes women are second class citizens…it seems they terrify him."

AP noted that if the grant program for the centers is approved, "Tennessee would become one of the top spending states on such organizations known for dissuading people from getting an abortion."

READ MORE: RNC supports six week abortion ban as it encourages members to pass 'strongest anti-choice legislation'

The Associated Press' full report is available here.

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