Judge Halts Tennessee Bid to Cut Planned Parenthood Grant

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 17, 2012   |   5:58PM   |   Nashville, TN

A federal judge has granted a request from Planned Parenthood for a temporary injunction preventing the state of Tennessee from halting a grant worth about $150,000 to the abortion business for HIV and syphilis testing.

Yesterday, U.S. Dist. Judge William Haynes granted the injunction Planned Parenthood requested in its lawsuit, which claims its exclusion from HIV and syphilis testing programs is a violation of its constitutional rights and federal law because it is being singled for its business selling abortions.

“This (ruling) will allow us to continue our life-saving work of providing high quality health care and accurate health information,” said Elokin CaPece, Director of Education at Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper. “HIV and STD testing and prevention counseling saves lives.”

Last year, Planned Parenthood abortion business lost its battle to keep a $397,000 taxpayer-funded contract in Memphis, Tennessee after pro-life advocates contacted members of the county commission requesting that the grant be given to someone else.  That came after the state decided to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood in other counties.

However, 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 was expected to be able to provide free syphilis testing.

According to The Tennessean, “In the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood accuses the state of arbitrarily denying the funding in December and this month — without providing a reason — after approving it in August. Planned Parenthood also accuses the state of violating the organization’s First Amendment rights and patients’ rights by restricting access to non-abortion services based solely on an aversion to abortion.”

The newspaper added:

According to the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee and Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region have participated in HIV and syphilis prevention programs for more than a decade, funded largely by CDC grants. The group said in court documents that last year the two organizations received nearly $150,000 in funding and served more than 15,000 people with prevention, detection and education services.

The suit says that Planned Parenthood applied last year for grants to continue participating in the programs in 2012 and was approved in August. But in December, it received notice from the state that it wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the program and word from a Health Department official that it “would not be approved for other grant funding for which it might apply in the future.”

Jeff Teague, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, told the newspaper, “It was clearly politically motivated. The governor and people in the General Assembly have made no secret of the fact they wanted to defund Planned Parenthood. It’s something that has kind of accelerated over the past three or four years. Planned Parenthood was singled out. We were the only people receiving this funding that were denied this funding. I think it’s pretty obvious this was a political attack on Planned Parenthood.”

Tennessee Right to Life told the newspaper the abortion business is attempting to force the state to fund it.

“This demonstrates that Planned Parenthood is attempting to take by force what the people of Tennessee have decided they no longer wish to give in terms of tax dollars,” said the organization’s president, Brian Harris. “If Planned Parenthood wants to provide these auxiliary services and other important health-care services, then they should requalify themselves by the ceasing of abortions at their facilities.”