Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee proposed this week the allocation of $100 million in state funds to help women facing a “crisis pregnancy,” including resources for crisis pregnancy centers.
Lee made the comments during his State of the State address on Monday, saying that the funding was a necessary part of the state’s commitment to pro-life values. If approved by the state legislature, the grants will be awarded to various nonprofit organizations.
“This year, I’m proposing a $100 million grant program to partner with nonprofits that serve mothers, fathers, and families during a crisis pregnancy,” Lee said during his speech. “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.”
“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,” he added. “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.”
The proposed funding, which will go to the state legislature for approval, comes as a broad Tennessee abortion ban took effect after the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, giving the Volunteer State some of the strongest pro-life protections in the nation.
According to the governor’s press secretary, Jade Byers, the resources will go to nonprofits that provide direct services for crisis pregnancies, adoption support, counseling around pregnancy, workforce assistance for new moms, housing assistance for mothers needing a place to stay, and other “wraparound services” to support mothers.
Several of the nonprofits that will be eligible for grants are crisis pregnancy centers, of which there are about 60 in Tennessee. The $100 million in funding would appear to be more money than the combined funding for such centers from all states in 2021-2022, according to the Associated Press.
Lee has also proposed using state funds to pay for infants’ diapers for their first two years on behalf of mothers who use TennCare, a health coverage program for lower-income individuals.
“In light of the Dobbs decision last year, Tennessee has in place maximum legal protection for unborn children under our law and the opportunity to significantly boost support for mothers, children and families facing a crisis pregnancy, and Gov. Lee is making it a top priority,” Byers told The Daily Wire in an email.
Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti joined 23 state attorneys general on Tuesday in sending a letter to Yelp, asking about its alleged discrimination against pregnancy resource centers.