There is a lot of legislation currently making its way through the state legislature that impacts the health and well-being of many Tennesseans. Representatives are voting on whether teachers can carry guns into schools, on whether women have access to abortion, whether folks can use tax dollars to attend private schools and how medicaid dollars will be used in our state.
What fascinates me about the current legislation is their competing goals.
If all these bills pass, the Tennessee legislature is in essence saying…
Every pregnant women must have the baby. No matter what. No matter if she has the support to raise the child. No matter if she wants the child. No matter if she can afford the child. She must have the baby.
This baby may or may not have health insurance. It depends on whether the mother has private insurance or if the child qualifies for TennCare. (In the last two years, 128,000 children were removed from TennCare, the Tennessee medicaid program.) The proposed legislation is asking that no restrictions be placed on how Medicaid is used. Legislation that does not control for specific outcomes gives room for administrations to cut benefits and to reduce provider reimbursements, impacting the care its citizens receive.
Once the child is old enough to attend school they may or may not have the same school resources that are available to children now. If legislation passes that allows families to use vouchers, or state tax dollars, to attend private schools, there will be fewer resources available to public school children.
And finally, this same child is more likely to be exposed to gun violence because there would be more guns in schools if K-12 school employees were allowed to bring guns to campus.
Does this make sense? You must have a baby but once the child is here our community will not make it easy to raise it.
I am advocating that we as a community spend less time and energy on symptom abatement and more time and energy on identifying and addressing the root causes of our concerns.
Instead of legislating a women’s reproductive choices, why not address what women need to plan for and to raise healthy, wanted children?
Instead of removing children from public schools, why not address what public schools need to provide creative, thought-provoking learning opportunities?
Instead of adding more guns into the system, why not address the reasons why some people resort to public, mass exterminations of children?
Let’s stop band-aiding our concerns and instead find the courage to create policies that build communities where we feel safe, supported and valued. It is the only way to make lasting change.