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Effort to De-fund Planned Parenthood Fizzles

May 31, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An effort to de-fund Planned Parenthood in Tennessee apparently has failed, now that Republican leaders acknowledge constitutional problems with the approach. Still, they vow to try again next session.

State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) had tried amending the state's budget bill to cut off federal money for non-abortion health services provided by Planned Parenthood offices in Memphis and Nashville.

Steven Emmert, vice president of patient services for Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee is disturbed by the efforts to limit health care availability for thousands of Tennesseeans.

"It's one thing to be opposed to abortion - everyone certainly has an opinion on that, and I understand that - but to be against preventive health care is cruel and wrong."

Without Planned Parenthood,, many low-income women would not be able to afford to pay the fees charged elsewhere for the care they need, Emmert warns.

"This would have had an impact on low-income women - perhaps a disastrous impact."

At issue is about $1.1 million in federal Title X (Family Planning) funding. In all 95 Tennessee counties, public health departments use it to provide medical exams, cancer screenings, and tests and treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In Shelby and Davidson counties, however, the workload is so large that the state contracts with Planned Parenthood to serve about 13,000 low-income residents in Memphis and Nashville.

By federal law, no Title X money can be used to pay for abortions; by state law, no Tennessee funds may be used for that purpose, either.

Anti-abortion activists have long opposed spending taxpayer money on any services provided by Planned Parenthood.

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - TN