Planned Parenthood in Tennessee Gets 2nd Chance for Tax-Funding

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 21, 2011   |   3:14PM   |   Memphis, TN

The county government in Memphis has given the Planned Parenthood abortion business a second chance to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funding that pro-life advocates thought would be revoked.

Shelby County Health Department director Yvonne Madlock announced earlier this month that, after significant lobbying from pro-life advocates, Christ Community Health Services would receive the $397,000 contract with the county for family planning rather than Planned Parenthood.

But, in a 6-4 party-line vote, the Shelby County Commission has decided to postpone that decision and allow Planned Parenthood more time to make its case that it should continue receiving the tax money. Democrats Walter Bailey, Melvin Burgess, Sidney Chism, Justin Ford, James Harvey and Steve Mulroy voted for the delay while Republicans Mike Carpenter, Terry Roland, Heidi Shafer and Chris Thomas voted against it, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

A committee of six people reviewed the grant requests and Christ Community scored higher than Planned Parenthood for its ability to provide the family planning services. However, Planned Parenthood executive Barry Chase complained to the press about the scoring and the county commission agreed to delay the change in funding.

Meanwhile, Christ Community leader Burt Waller initially told the newspaper the medical facility refers women for abortions, although it doesn’t do them. However, it later contacted it to correct the record.

“We really try to provide women with other options and make sure they have those possibilities and if they at the end still want a pregnancy termination, we know they know where to go,” Dr. Rick Donlon, a founding physician at the clinic, said.

“We’re persuaded that a pregnancy is a human life and that is worthy of all the protections,” Donlon said, adding that women know where to get abortions and doesn’t need Christ Community to direct them to them.

The money comes from the Title X family planning grants states are given by the federal government and Davidson County, the location of Nashville, made the decision earlier this year to move the recipient of its funding elsewhere from the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Because Shelby County was the lone holdout, pro-life advocates focused their efforts on persuading the county government to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

At the time of the initial announcement, Brian Harris of Tennessee Right to Life told LifeNews he is delighted by the decision.

“Pro-life Tennesseans have proven again today what can be positively accomplished for the protection of human life when we work together,” he said. “Pro-life voters have spoken in a consistent manner over the course of years and their elected officials–councilmen, commissioners, legislators, mayors, congressmen and our Governor—they have all joined the long effort to protect life and Tennessee’s taxpayers. Tennessee Right to Life thanks them all for this good news today.”

Even if Shelby County ultimate revokes the grant, the Planned Parenthood abortion business is still receiving taxpayer dollars from the state of Tennessee.

As LifeNews reported earlier this month, the Tennessee Department of Health gave Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR) a grant to combat syphilis in Shelby County that allows Planned Parenthood to prop itself up by adding legitimate medical services to its abortion business. PPGGMR will able to provide free syphilis testing starting next month at its 2430 Poplar Avenue facility.

The Centers for Disease Control chose the county as a target area because of high rates of the disease as it ranked fifteenth in the United States for syphilis rates and WMC-TV indicates “Shelby County has the highest number of newly-diagnosed syphilis cases in Tennessee, and the infection rate for all stages of syphilis is five times higher in Shelby County than in the U.S. overall.”

PPGMR CEO Barry Chase told WMC-TV 5: “The syphilis elimination project dovetails well with PPGMR’s community HIV testing and prevention counseling program. Thousands of Mid-South women and teens rely on Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region for preventive and reproductive health care. This is another way we can serve vulnerable and at-risk populations who may have nowhere else to turn for health care.”

Harris was disappointed the abortion business received a grant that should have gone to a legitimate medical provider that can better treat potential patients and be free of the ethical concerns of having Tennesseans fund the nation’s biggest abortion business with its tax dollars.

Harris’ group worked to eliminate taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and successfully won legislative approval of a provision to do so, but someone in the legislature secretly removed it from the final bill that Governor Bill Haslam eventually signed. In response, Tennessee Right to Life called on Haslam to keep his campaign promise not to fund Planned Parenthood if elected to office.

ACTION: Contact the Shelby County Commission at and urge opposition to Planned Parenthood funding.