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VOL. 35 | NO. 26 | Friday, July 1, 2011




Planned Parenthood Nashville chapter loses grant

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NASHVILLE (AP) — The Planned Parenthood chapter in Nashville is no longer getting government funds after a grant was diverted Friday to the city's public health department.

An official of the agency said the controversy forcing the funding shift has benefits for Planned Parenthood, according to The Tennessean.

Gynecological examinations and birth control counseling offered by the group will cost patients more. However, Jeff Teague, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, says the public discussion about the group, which also provides abortions, has showcased the broader array of services the organization offers. By federal rules, government money did not pay for abortions.

"One of the things that's been really interesting about this whole experience is that it has been a wonderful opportunity to educate," Teague said. "In a real weird, perverse way . it's helped people learn more about what Planned Parenthood does."

The funding shift was anticipated, Teague said, and Planned Parenthood will survive without the government money.

"The board had had discussions about the wisdom of staying in (and continuing to receive the grant) and had basically decided that it would not be in our best interest to," Teague said. "We started months and months and months ago planning on not having the funds available."

The funding changed was forced by abortion opponents who claim that government spending on Planned Parenthood gives tax dollars to an abortion provider, even if it isn't spent on the procedure.

Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life, an anti-abortion group that has long lobbied to strip Planned Parenthood of government funding, called the switch a victory for the taxpayers.

"Planned Parenthood is an abortion business, "Harris said. "It is inappropriate for tax dollars to go to . such an agency."

Among the agency's clients is Amanda Clelland, who began going to Planned Parenthood for reproductive health services while she attended Middle Tennessee State University and was dropped by her parents' insurance company when she reached 23.

Clelland said cutting off government funding of Planned Parenthood removes support for other vital services, noting discounted services allowed doctors to catch and neutralize precancerous cells.

"I just don't think that they understand what it is they are defunding," Clelland said. "It's done a great service for the community."

Many low-income women are expected to now turn to the Health Department for services.

Department spokesman Brian Todd said it isn't clear what the impact on the city department of Planned Parenthood raising its procedure rates is going to be.

"All we can do is continue to monitor it," Todd said.

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