TN Judge Quickly Rescinds Jail Birth Control Program

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A Tennessee judge has pulled the plug on his controversial plan that encouraged female and male inmates with drug addiction problems to cut the length of their jail sentences through voluntarily undergoing birth control procedures, reports the Times Free Press of Chattanooga. Amid a growing legal uproar, White County Judge Sam Benningfield filed an order Wednesday reversing his May 15 order. He had hoped the program would help combat the number of babies born with drug addictions. “I wasn’t on a crusade,” Benningfield said. “I don’t have a ‘mission.’ I thought I could help a few folks, get them thinking and primarily help children.”

The plan had come under fire from some state lawmakers and the ACLU, whose Tennessee director said, “The Constitution protects people’s right to choose whether and when to procreate.” Benningfield’s plan offered 30 days off jail sentences for men who agreed to free vasectomies and women who agreed to receive free Nexplanon implants, which are intended to prevent pregnancies for up to four years. Thirty-two women and 38 men had signed up. Benningfield said the birth control idea for inmates came from the Tennessee Department of Health, which withdrew its support after it attracted national attention.

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