Tennessee Redirects Funding Away from PPFA to Public Health Departments

By Dave Andrusko

At the request of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, the entirety of a 335,000 federal family planning grant will go to the Metro Nashville Public Health Department which previously had shared  the grant with Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee. 

According to the Tennessean newspaper, quoting from a letter sent Friday by Metro Health Director William Paul to state Health Commissioner Susan Cooper, “We are confident that over time we can serve nearly the same number of clients that are currently served, and we will do what we can to ensure that these important services are not lost or adversely affected in Davidson County by this realignment.”  Metro will now  receive a total of $894,700 in federal grants for family planning services, the Tennessean reported.

This is part of a larger funding battle in Tennessee. Tennessee Right to Life has strongly urged Gov. Haslam to use his administrative power so that PPFA affiliates in Nashville and Memphis do not receive $1.1 million in additional federal grants, shifting the money to the health departments in the two counties instead.

According to the Tennessean, “Last week, Cooper wrote public health officials in those two counties to urge them to take over the grants. Cooper said they should ‘think creatively and consider working with community partners’ to deliver family planning services.”

In an op-ed for the Tennessean, Karen Brukardt, a legislative liaison for Tennessee Right to Life, explained the reasoning.

“Tennessee Right to life has partnered with concerned pro-life majorities in the Tennessee legislature to consider a positive means of continuing to provide Title X services while refusing to subsidize the nation’s leading abortion promoter and provider. We can do so legally and effectively by ensuring that the local health departments in Memphis and Nashville receive adequate funding to provide the services required for participation in the Title X program.

“Both health departments comply with applicable state laws, are free of the conflict and controversy associated with Planned Parenthood, and are already recognized and respected sources of service and care for vulnerable populations in need of free or subsidized birth-control services.”

“Perhaps most importantly for those in need of such services, the public-health departments represent far greater accessibility since, in contrast to Planned Parenthood, both offer the convenience of multiple locations placed strategically throughout the urban communities.”

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said that in conjunction with similar actions being taken in Shelby County, the decision by Metro means that Planned Parenthood will no longer receive federal funds in any of the state’s 95 counties, according to the newspaper.

“We are at long last moving towards the final stages of the Planned Parenthood shell game,” he said in a statement. “I’d like to praise the Governor for working to completely turn off the spigot of taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood.”

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