MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Shelby County commissioners have deadlocked on a plan that would strip Planned Parenthood of a contract to provide family planning services for low-income residents and give the job to a group that does not perform abortions.
The 5-5 vote in committee Wednesday leaves in doubt the outcome of next Monday’s scheduled final vote before the full commission on a contract with Christ Community Health Services, The Commercial Appeal reports (http://bit.ly/pd6Qd6).
Planned Parenthood held a contract to provide family planning services until the state Legislature sought to cut government funding to the organization. Christ Community Health Services, a local nonprofit, does not perform abortions, but Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region does.
The contract covers services such as birth control counseling and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
Health professionals and members of Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s administration evaluated proposals from Christ Community, Planned Parenthood and the Memphis Health Center. They gave Christ Community Health the highest score.
Health Department chief Yvonne Madlock said Christ Community will offer family planning services in four locations, compared with one for Planned Parenthood. Also, Christ Community offers a wide range of other health care services, while Planned Parenthood focuses heavily on reproductive and women’s health, Madlock said.
Local Planned Parenthood leader Barry Chase said Christ Community won’t comply with federal rules that require it to offer basic information about abortion.
Christ Community CEO Burt Waller said Wednesday that the organization would comply with the federal rules. But he and the organization’s Dr. David Pepperman said Christ Community wouldn’t make a formal referral to an abortion provider.
The state used to divide Memphis’ share of federal Title X family planning money between Planned Parenthood and the county Health Department. After the state recently began giving money only to county health departments, the grant funds to Shelby County government for family planning rose from $560,000 to more than $1.3 million.