Planned Parenthood files suit to restore funding

Friday, February 3, 2012, Vol. 36, No. 5

NASHVILLE (AP) — Affiliates of Planned Parenthood are suing the state Health Department to have their funding restored.

Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee and Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region filed the lawsuit Thursday to restore preventive care funding under the HIV Prevention Services and the Syphilis Elimination grant programs.

Planned Parenthood, which also provides abortions, said in a news release that no reason was given for the contracts being terminated in December. It also said no provider was identified as a replacement.

The president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee alleged the action was political.

"Women and men count on Planned Parenthood for lifesaving health information, including HIV prevention," Jeff Teague said. "To jeopardize the lives and health of young people across Tennessee for purely political reasons is shocking and irresponsible."

A spokeswoman for the Health Department said in an email to The Associated Press that officials have not yet seen the lawsuit and cannot comment on pending litigation.

In October, the Shelby County Commission voted to switch its family-planning contract from Planned Parenthood to a faith-based organization that does not perform abortions.

Planned Parenthood held the contract to provide family planning services until the Republican-controlled state Legislature sought to cut government funding to the organization.