The Tennessean (Nashville) (02.03.12) - Thursday, February
Two Planned Parenthood groups are suing Tennessee for denying
them grants to participate in CDC-funded HIV and syphilis
prevention programs. The suit, filed Feb. 2 by Planned
Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee (PPMET) and Planned
Parenthood Greater Memphis Region, asks a federal judge to
intervene and grant an injunction against the state.
According to the suit, the two groups have participated in HIV
and syphilis prevention programs for more than a decade,
largely with CDC funding. Last year they received nearly
$150,000 and provided more than 15,000 people with prevention,
testing, and education services.
Planned Parenthood applied last year for 2012 program funding,
which it was awarded in August, the suit says. However, in
December the state notified the group it would not be allowed
to participate. A state Health Department official also said
Planned Parenthood "would not be approved for other grant
funding for which it might apply in the future."
Other organizations applied for and received the grants, and
only Planned Parenthood was barred, said Jeff Teague,
president and CEO of PPMET.
In the suit, Planned Parenthood says the state arbitrarily
denied it funding in December and January, without providing a
reason, after approving it in August. The organization also
accuses the state of violating its First Amendment rights, as
well as patients' rights, by restricting access to such
services based solely on an aversion to abortion, a service
associated with the group.
While the state did not provide a reason for denying the
grants, Gov. Bill Haslam and his political allies have openly
expressed their opposition to government funding for Planned
Parenthood. The Tennessee Department of Health declined
comment on the suit and the defunding.