Category Archives: abortion

A TN partisan press release squabble over Planned Parenthood

Prior to a state legislative committee hearing on Planned Parenthood, which Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black planned to attend, Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini issued a press release decrying the GOP “witch hunt.” Black responded. So did state Republican Chairman Ryan Haynes. The press releases follow.

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party
“Tennessee Republican legislators are falling in lock step behind Diane Black and the Republican National Committee and publicly showcasing how they’d rather follow their leaders in Washington instead of working to address the very real problems that face Tennesseans today.

Here’s the reality: 280,000 hardworking men and women across the state still don’t have access to affordable healthcare because Republicans failed to pass Insure TN; Hundreds of corrections officers are being overworked and underpaid while Governor Haslam’s Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) appointee says ‘no problems here;’ Thousands of maintenance and operations workers are about to lose their jobs so that politically connected corporations can line their pocket with state contracts; and hardworking Tennesseans still can’t make a decent living because the Republicans won’t raise the minimum wage. Yet these same Republican legislators want to waste time and taxpayer money looking for a problem that doesn’t exist in Tennessee to score political points like Diane Black, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell?
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Vanderbilt among universities getting fetal tissue research funding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt University is one of nearly 100 research institutions to receive federal funding for fetal tissue research between 2011 and 2014 — a practice that has unleashed a furor on Capitol Hill after anti-abortion activists recently released undercover videos pertaining to such research.

The private Tennessee university received $10 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health for fetal tissue research in 2011 and 2012, most of which funded a diabetes study that won a national award for its director last year.

Anti-abortion activists’ release of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood discussing the sale of fetal tissue has spurred a backlash among some politicians on Capitol Hill and on the Republican presidential campaign trail.

University laboratories defend their research, saying tissue that would otherwise be thrown out has played a vital role in lifesaving medical advances and holds great potential for further breakthroughs.

Fetal cells are considered ideal because they divide rapidly, adapt to new environments easily and are less susceptible to rejection than adult cells when transplanted.

The Associated Press reported this week that 97 research institutions — mostly universities and hospitals — received a total of $280 million in federal grants for fetal tissue research from the National Institutes of Health between 2011 and 2014.

Haslam ‘clarifies’ state’s Planned Parenthood dealings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday that questions from fellow Republicans prompted a letter assuring them that fetal tissue sales are illegal in Tennessee and explaining the state’s dealings with Planned Parenthood.

The letter was sent to the General Assembly’s Republican Caucus on Wednesday. In it, Haslam refers to recently released hidden-camera videos that raised the question of whether Planned Parenthood officials in other states were profiting from the sale of fetal tissue for medical research. Planned Parenthood says it charges fees solely to cover its costs.

Jeff Teague, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of East and Middle Tennessee, said the organization does not participate in tissue donation anywhere in Tennessee.

The letter says Haslam has heard from many caucus members who “share our shock and concern at the callous disregard for life displayed in undercover videos of persons employed by Planned Parenthood. You understandably want to make sure the activities discussed in these videos are not happening in Tennessee.”

He goes on to encourage the prosecution of anyone who violates state law by buying or selling fetal tissue.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Haslam said legislators have been asking about the state’s relationship to Planned Parenthood after hearing some governors who are running for president say their states have “totally defunded” the organization.

In the letter, Haslam explains in detail that Tennessee only provides money to Planned Parenthood indirectly as a subcontractor to other groups receiving state money for contraceptive services and HIV testing. Haslam’s administration tried to end those subcontracts in 2011 but was prevented from doing so by a federal court order.

Haslam says his administration ended any direct contracts with Planned Parenthood in 2011.

Note: Full text of the letter may be viewed by clicking on this link: haslamletter

Judge lifts abortion law restraining order

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has lifted a temporary restraining order that prevented the state from enforcing a new abortion law but says he may hold another hearing this week.

The Tennessean ( ) reports U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp lifted the order Monday. He granted it in June to allow the Women’s Center in Nashville and the Bristol Regional Women’s Center in East Tennessee to start the licensing process under the new law that went into effect July 1.

Attorneys for the clinic operators say their physicians are concerned about possible prosecution or loss of license under the new law. The lawyer defending the lawsuit disputed that, but the judge said it was a possibility and said he would hold an emergency hearing Thursday if district attorneys aren’t willing to submit statements that they won’t seek charges.

Rep. Andy Holt: I am investigating Planned Parenthood

Emailed statement from Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden:
DRESDEN, Tenn., April 4, 2015– Over the course of the past few weeks, we have seen multiple heart-breaking videos that tell the true story of Planned Parenthood. As it turns out, violating federal law, harvesting stolen souls for profit, and attempting to cover it up as some conspiracy theory is just another day at the office of Planned Parenthood. An effort to defund Planned Parenthood was recently defeated in the United States Senate, but that doesn’t mean the State of Tennessee cannot act. I, for one, am sick and tired of being told by Washington politicians that they are going to do something and yet they never get the job done. Therefore, I am launching my own investigation into Planned Parenthood’s funding in Tennessee. Once again, Tennessee will lead where Washington fails to.

Time and time again, the argument has been made that Planned Parenthood provides healthcare services for women, not just abortions, and we cannot allow them to close their doors because women will go without healthcare. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought Obamacare was sold to the American people as solving this issue of people going without healthcare. So, is Obamacare failing, or is Planned Parenthood lying? You tell me.

Then we are told that the Hyde Amendment (federal law) and a mirroring state law prohibit the use of tax dollars given to Planned Parenthood from being used to perform abortive procedures. That’s like saying money we send to Iran cannot be used to develop a nuclear bomb because they are only allowed to use the money to pay the light bill on their nuclear facilities. Last time I checked, using tax dollars to pay the rent on an abortion clinic is money being used to provide abortive services.
Enough is enough.

Earlier this week, I began working with legal services, TennCare and the Department of Health to see exactly how many federal or state tax-payer dollars have been given to Planned Parenthood through means provided by the state of Tennessee. I expect full cooperation from all parties I am working with. If I find one red cent of tax-payer money going to Planned Parenthood, there will be legislation introduced next session to outlaw it. Mark my words.

I will not allow myself or my constituents to be complicit in the profiteering of stolen souls.

Note: The chairmen of the House and Senate Government Operations Committees have already announced they will hold a “fact-finding” hearing on use of tissue from aborted fetuses and Planned Parenthood. Previous post HERE.

TN Right to Life backs Zachary in House District 14 special election

News release from Tennessee Right to Life
NASHVILLE, JULY 30, 2015: The state’s oldest and largest pro-life organization has announced its official endorsement of Jason Zachary for the special election in the 14th district state House seat.

“With the election of Mr. Zachary, voters in this district have an opportunity to send another committed pro-life voice to the Tennessee state House,” said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life. “Jason has demonstrated an understanding of pro-life goals and a desire to work with Tennessee Right to Life toward achieving them.”

In addition to an impressive interview with members of the Tennessee Right to Life Political Action Committee, Zachary returned a 100% candidate survey and is an active supporter of adoption as a life-affirming means of protecting children and building families.

“We are confident not only that Jason Zachary’s vote will always be in support of protecting the unborn but that he will be a demonstrated leader in promoting life,” said Harris. “Tennessee Right to Life urges concerned pro-life supporters to work and vote for Zachary’s election on August 12.”

Note: Zachary is opposed by Knox County School Board member Karen Carson in the Republican primary to succeed former Rep. Ryan Haynes.

Planned Parenthood: Legislators waste ‘time and taxpayer money’

Questioning legislator plans for a special August hearing, a Planned Parenthood leader says no fetal tissue is sold in Tennessee because it’s already against state law, reports the Times-Free Press.

Jeff Teague, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Middle and East Tennessee, said, “I think it’s important to know that Planned Parenthood in Tennessee doesn’t participate in any tissue donation program.”

“We’re totally in compliance with all state and federal laws,” Teague added. “I think this hearing is going to confirm that and I think it’s going to end up being a big waste of time and taxpayer dollars.”

Calling the hearing “completely unnecessary,” Teague said, “it’s obvious if you’ve seen any of those videos they’ve been heavily edited to make Planned Parenthood look like they’re doing something that’s not right.

“You cannot sell any sort of human tissue for research,” Teague added. “That is against state law in most states.”

He said medical researchers can legally use the tissue for “finding treatments like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s” and have been used in developing vaccines. Clinics are legally allowed to “recoup the cost of the proper handling, storage and transport of the donated tissue to research facilities,” Teague said.

Bell said in an interview that state Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner will testify at the Aug. 19 hearing, which he emphasized was previously scheduled.

“I appreciate what the leader of the largest provider and profiteer for abortion has to say,” Bell said of Teague. “We want to make sure this practice is not going on in Tennessee. It may not be and we want to make sure it’s not.”

Tennessee law states no person, agency, corporation, partnership or association shall offer or accept money or anything of value for an aborted fetus. The 1989 law carries a one- to six-year year jail term and a fine of up to $3,000.

Faison said in a statement, “Regardless of where you stand on abortion, we can all agree that what we have seen Planned Parenthood do is abhorrent! The Tennessee Department of Health must take all precautions to see that his never happens in our state.”

Note: Previous post HERE.

Legislative committee chairs call hearing on aborted fetuses

News release from Sen. Mike Bell and Rep. Jeremy Faison
NASHVILLE — Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville) and House Government Operations Committee Chairman Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) announced today that they will hold a joint fact-finding meeting to look at enforcement of Tennessee’s law banning the sale of an aborted fetus. The Joint Operations Committee meeting was called after the release of two videos by the Center for Medical Progress allegedly showing executives of Planned Parenthood discussing prices for intact fetal specimens and methods to destroy a fetus without harming organs or tissues considered valuable for sale to vendors.

Bell and Faison have requested that Tennessee Commissioner of Health John Dreyzehner appear at the meeting set for August 19 in Nashville.

“The gruesome videos released by the Center for Medical Progress have implications at Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide, including those located here in Tennessee,” said Senator Bell. “The executives filmed were in national leadership roles in the company. We want the facts about who is watching to ensure that the trafficking of baby parts is not happening in Tennessee and whether or not we need additional rules and regulations to make sure federal and state laws against this horrific practice are enforced.”

Tennessee law states no person, agency, corporation, partnership or association shall offer or accept money or anything of value for an aborted fetus. The law is punishable as a Class E felony which carries a one to six-year year jail term and a fine of up to $3,000.

Rep. Faison said, “Regardless of where you stand on abortion, we can all agree that what we have seen Planned Parenthood do is abhorrent! The Tennessee Department of Health must take all precautions to see that his never happens in our state.”

The Government Operations Committee is responsible for reviewing rules and regulations dealing with Departments, Agencies and other entities of state government. The General Assembly passed a law earlier this year to give the Department of Health more authority to inspect basic health and safety standards at abortion clinics beginning July 1; however, U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp issued a temporary restraining order blocking its implementation.

“The deplorable lack of respect for human life shown in this video has no place in any civilized society,” added Bell. “We have a lot of questions that need answers about how we can make sure that this is not happening in our state.”

Abortion costs increase under new state law

The state’s new law requiring a 48-hour wait and counseling prior to an abortion has increased costs at both abortion clinics in Memphis, according to the Commercial Appeal.

Planned Parenthood’s cost for the procedure rose 25 percent. At CHOICES, the cost rose more than 50 percent. Both clinics, however, still offer financial assistance to those who qualify.

Representatives from both clinics say there are no medical benefits to requiring women to wait for the procedure, and the biggest problem is the inconvenience to patients.

Ashley Coffield, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood, said the delay is “only going to be harmful” because the longer a woman has to wait, the greater the chance she could face complications due to an underlying medical condition.

Even if there are no serious medical conditions getting in the way, the logistics of just getting to the clinic a second time can be a struggle for women. Some of them might face challenges taking off work for two days, some have to travel from another state, some have to find arrangements for the children they already have and the cost has increased.

The increase “is disproportionately affecting women with lower income,” CHOICES executive director Rebecca Terrell said, adding that it is standard for any abortion clinic for just over half of women to come back to have the procedure after the counseling. But with the cost increase, she expects the majority of women to show up on their second day because of how much they’re paying for it, even if they have to travel.

Judge extends order blocking abortion law enforcement

Two abortion clinics will remain open for at least another month after a federal judge extended an order stopping enforcement of a Tennessee law requiring them to meet new standards, reports The Tennessean.

Chief District Judge Kevin Sharp on Thursday extended a temporary restraining order and directed the clinics and state licensing board to try and work out a resolution outside of court.

If they can’t, they will return to Sharp’s federal courtroom Aug. 10 to argue whether a preliminary injunction should be issued.

“I’m not convinced that anything beyond another month of a temporary restraining order is going to be necessary,” Sharp said.

The law, signed by Gov. Bill Haslam in May, requires all clinics providing surgical abortions to become licensed as ambulatory surgical treatment centers.

Providers and their attorneys say that is a costly process requiring extensive renovations, and leaves the clinics exposed to criminal penalties if they do not meet certain deadlines. They said they will face closure under the new requirements.

The state, defending the law, says the new regulations are meant to ensure safety at the clinics and the clinics should seek resolution through state waivers.

The Women’s Center in Nashville and the Bristol Regional Women’s Clinic, and their physician, Dr. Wesley Adams, filed suit challenging the law, along with CHOICES, the Memphis Center for Reproductive Health.