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VOL. 35 | NO. 20 | Friday, May 20, 2011




Defunding of Planned Parenthood may not be final

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Sen. Stacey Campfield's move to cut off tax dollars to Planned Parenthood may not be complete.

The Commercial Appeal reports that a competing amendment in the $30.8 billion budget plan passed last week may have nullified the Knoxville Republican's plans.

When lawmakers passed the state budget, Campfield inserted an amendment declaring that all federal money sent to Tennessee for family-planning services "shall be used fully" by government-run health agencies and none "shall be paid to third-party providers or private organizations or entities."

A second amendment says the first should not supersede provisions of federal and state law.

State law says all federal Title X funding goes to state and local health departments, unless they can't provide all the services required, in which case the state can contract with private agencies such as the nonprofit Planned Parenthood.

Campfield told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the second amendment is "arguable" and he's trying to find out why it wasn't removed as he was told it would be.

Tennessee's law governing the provision of Title X funding was enacted in 1972 when the program began. Since then, Planned Parenthood in Memphis and Nashville have shared the services and the funding to pay for them with the two local health departments.

Abortion opponents and lawmakers began trying years ago to strip Planned Parenthood of all such funding. In 2009, with Republican majorities in both chambers, the Legislature first tried a complete ban on the funding for the agency. It settled for an amendment to the 1972 act giving priority to the health departments but allowing private agencies to get funding if the public agencies cannot do it all.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis said Campfield's amendment could cost it $747,900 in Title X funding starting July 1. The money helps provide for medical exams, cancer screenings, tests and treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, family planning, counseling and birth-control services for about 5,000 low-income residents every year.

By federal law, no Title X money pays for abortions and no state taxpayer money goes into the Title X program. But abortion opponents oppose any taxpayer money going to Planned Parenthood.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters that he was unaware of the conflicting language until he read news accounts on Wednesday. The governor indicated that he was not in favor of a line-item veto.

"To me, obviously something went wrong in the legislative process that they need to straighten out themselves," he said. "The Legislature thought they passed one thing and later on found out they didn't. Obviously somewhere in there, there was a disconnect."

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