News release from Planned Parenthood:
NASHVILLE, TN – This morning Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee and Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region filed suit against the Tennessee Department of Health in federal district court to restore preventive care funding under the HIV Prevention Services Grant program and the Syphilis Elimination Grant program.
Planned Parenthood affiliates won funding for community education and health services work in these programs in August 2011 following a competitive bidding process. In December 2011, the grant contracts to both Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee (PPMET) and Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR) were dropped with no reason given after they were approved and without identifying a qualified provider to meet the need left by the elimination of Planned Parenthood from these prevention programs.
“It is disgraceful that Governor Haslam and Commissioner Dreyzehner have put politics ahead of the health and well-being of thousands of Tennesseans,” said Jeff Teague, PPMET’s CEO. “Women and men count on Planned Parenthood for lifesaving health information, including HIV prevention. To jeopardize the lives and health of young people across Tennessee for purely political reasons is shocking and irresponsible.”
As evidenced by 10 years of positive reviews and annual contract renewals, PPGMR and PPMET have done an excellent job implementing these programs.
For example, PPMET’s Education and Training department provides STD prevention education through relationships with more than 100 organizations, and is a primary source of training for professionals who educate youth on STD prevention and other issues. In 2011, PPMET exceeded the number of people it proposed to serve with a fixed grant amount by more than 1,000 individuals.
Similarly, PPGMR was the first organization in Memphis to begin rapid testing for HIV, and its HIV “Master Trainers” train more new HIV testers every year than any other agency in the area. Following a June 2011 site visit, the Department of Health’s HIV Prevention Testing Program Director commended PPGMR’s “dedication to HIV prevention and the community” and stated that he “look[ed] forward to working with Planned Parenthood in the future.”
In the suit against the state, Planned Parenthood argues they were kicked out of the HIV and syphilis elimination programs for providing comprehensive women’s health care–a violation of federal law and the constitutional rights of Planned Parenthood. In 2011, 17,698 women, men and teens relied on Planned Parenthood’s nonprofit health centers in communities throughout Tennessee for a wide range of quality, affordable health care services including annual exams, birth control counseling and care, reproductive cancer screenings, STD prevention and treatment and abortion care. One in five American women has relied on Planned Parenthood at some point in her life. Planned Parenthood has been operating in Tennessee for more than 75 years.
“This is about equipping young people with the skills they need to make healthy decisions, including abstinence, to save their own lives. Educators and organizations partner with Planned Parenthood because we provide professional, fact-based, comprehensive education,” said Lyndsey Godwin, PPMET’s Manager of Education and Training. “This loss of funding will put at risk thousands of teens who get life-saving health information from Planned Parenthood.”
Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region and Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis are represented by attorneys from Arnold & Porter, Baker Donelson, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
UPDATE: Tennessee Right to Life was quick in issuing a statement on the lawsuit. Here it is:
“Having received millions and millions of tax dollars from Tennesseans over the past 40 years, Planned Parenthood is having a tough time adjusting to their new economic reality,” said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life. “But as more and more Americans become aware of the abusive and criminal conduct being documented inside Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities, many more of us are openly opposing public and private subsidy of this controversial organization,” said Harris. “Their latest lawsuit is a desperate attempt to win back what they are losing from private donors and public tax payers.”