Planned Parenthood calls state ‘irresponsible’ for yanking funds to fight syphilis and HIV

Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 10:05pm

When the Susan G. Komen foundation ended grants to Planned Parenthood, it sparked a fierce backlash felt even in Nashville. Incensed supporters waltzed into health clinics here and wrote checks on the spot, contributing to the $3 million Planned Parenthood raised nationally in the three days it took the Komen foundation to reverse itself.

“It was like a tidal wave,” said Jeff Teague, CEO of Planned Parenthood in Nashville. “We were just overwhelmed with people calling. They were angry. We had people just out of the blue walk into our health centers and say, ‘I’m furious. Here’s a check.’ It was a huge outpouring of support for Planned Parenthood. It was amazing.”

The moment was hailed in the national media as a watershed event for reproductive rights and women’s health issues as well as the dawning of social media power in this country. But while the reaction on Facebook and Twitter was almost instantaneous to Planned Parenthood’s loss of breast-cancer detection and education money, there has been hardly a tweet of protest as Republicans in states across the country have tried to demonize the nonprofit as an abortion factory and starve it of cash.

The latest example — when the state of Tennessee yanked $150,000 in federal money for HIV and STD prevention programs in January — went unnoticed altogether. It wasn’t until Planned Parenthood sued the Haslam administration this month to restore the money that anyone in the media even knew about it.

Teague offered a quick explanation for this incongruity: STDs lack star quality. “There’s not a national march to eliminate syphilis,” he said.

The need for prevention and education programs is pressing, all the same, and Planned Parenthood contends the administration’s latest defunding will lead to more STD and HIV infections in this state, chiefly among the poor.

Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit contends health commissioner John Dreyzehner broke a federal law barring the denial of government funds to nonprofits for political reasons. Planned Parenthood won the grants in a competitive bidding process last summer when the Bredesen-appointed health commissioner Susan Cooper was still in office. In January, after Dreyzehner took over, the state notified the nonprofit that it was withdrawing the grants and rebidding the contracts.

There was no explanation given at the time, and Dreyzehner has refused to comment on why he did it, claiming he can’t talk about pending litigation. As the lawsuit points out, Tennessee Republicans have made no secret of their goal to defund Planned Parenthood.

Gov. Bill Haslam pressured health departments in Nashville and Memphis to deny more than $1 million in federal money to Planned Parenthood last year.

That money went for health exams, cancer screenings and family planning for low-income women — not for abortions, which are illegal to perform with federal funds. With Planned Parenthood out of the picture, the health departments have tried to perform those services themselves. But in Nashville, Planned Parenthood believes hundreds of women have gone without these services because of long waits for health department clinic appointments.

At the time, state Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, gloated by saying: “We had to kiss a lot of ugly girls at the prom, but we took the pretty one home. ... [W]e got what I was looking for, which was defunding Planned Parenthood.”

After Planned Parenthood filed suit over last month’s second loss of state-issued grants, Tennessee Right to Life president Brian Harris accused the nonprofit of unspecified “abusive and criminal conduct.”

“Having received millions and millions of tax dollars from Tennesseans over the past 40 years, Planned Parenthood is having a tough time adjusting to their new economic reality,” Harris said. “Their latest lawsuit is a desperate attempt to win back what they are losing from private donors and public taxpayers.”

Harris has good reason to crow. His organization started pressuring Dreyzehner from the day of his appointment, making it clear that pro-lifers would demand he do their bidding as the state’s top health officer. In a statement then, Harris castigated Haslam over the appointment because Dreyzehner had attended a family-planning conference last year.

“After a legislative session in which pro-life majorities made clear their desire to bar the use of tax dollars for agencies such as Planned Parenthood, it appears that the governor has invited a fox into the henhouse,” Harris said, calling Dreyzehner an opponent of “even the most basic pro-life protections for unborn children and abortion vulnerable women in our state.”

That there’s no connection between abortions and federal funding for HIV and STD prevention seems lost on Planned Parenthood’s opponents.

Teague argues Planned Parenthood, with decades of experience, is better qualified than any other nonprofit to run the programs and that yanking the contracts will limit patients’ access to these services. That’s at a time when Memphis has the nation’s fifth-highest infection rate for syphilis. Also, the HIV infection rate among 15- to 24-year-olds in this state has doubled in the past five years.

“And they’re playing games with funding that’s going to give young people the skills and information and tools they need to protect themselves,” he said. “That’s just irresponsible.”

23 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 2/13/12 at 12:03

The state yanked Federal money that was to go to Planned Parenthood. What will the state do with this money? Is this not stolen money.? I'm glad that they are being sued. I am sure of it now that the men in power hate women.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/13/12 at 6:40

Right on pswindle. Maybe the Haslam administration thinks if there is no funds, that HIV and STD will just go away.

By: spooky24 on 2/13/12 at 6:46

As someone who could really care less I see this as a sham on both sides of the debate. Clearly, this is a political battle, that has little to do with women's health issues. If all these people 'opened their hearts' and gave millions to PP then why do they need federal tax payer funded grants? The Republicans are picking a fight over this for reasons I can't fathom. Could it be payback? Say it's not.
I ask a politically well connected annalist about this since I know little about the underlying battle going on. She told me that:

Both sides are wrong and giving bogus facts to the media
Both sides are hardheaded and stupid.

Sound familiar?


By: starkat on 2/13/12 at 7:12

This nut job that is Health Commissioner makes $13,000 dollars PER all the benefits......we need yank his salary....I do not approve of this kind of pay for criminal behavior.....

By: Moonglow1 on 2/13/12 at 7:20

Moonglow1: Since Haslam is pro business, it will be interesting to watch him recruit business to TN when we will be known for high rates of HIV & syphilis. This governor is beyond the pale dumb. By following in lock step with the far right fringe element of what is now the dominant force in the Republican party he is a lost cause. An intelligent electorate would not vote him in for a second term. Unfortunately this is TN, home of Scope's Monkey's & now the largest exporter of HIV & syphilis to the nation. The attack on Planned Parenthood is an attack executed by the extreme fringes. Women beware. The Taliban is no longer only in Afghanistan, but right here in the Governor's mansion. Yes the enemy is us: brought to you by the Right Wing Fringe The New Republican Party.

By: Ask01 on 2/13/12 at 7:24

Let me launch this tirade first.

I personally oppose abortion unless the result of rape, incest, or to preserve the mother's life, believing the best 100% contraceptive is 'don't do it.' I realize the concept relies on people exercising responsibility, and, a very important component, educating citizens on contraceptive methods.

As much as some may be offended, we need to expose people to the realities of sex, the very real possibility of pregnancy each time, and methods to prevent adding to the surplus population unless desired. I reject the argument of I was too 'excited,' 'afraid of killing the mood,' or too drunk to realize what I was doing. Accepting that argument should void every drunk driving conviction ever handed down as obviously they weren't capable either.

The result of cutting off funding will be the return of the back alley abortionist, and dead women from botched procedures. Or an explosion in the birth rate.

OK, I got that off my chest. Sorry for the off topic rant.

This is a pretty ham handed effort to attack Planned Parenthood by taking shots at a companion program to prevent STDs. Even more inept than the governors moronic handling of the Occupy Protesters. I've leaned Republican most of my life while voting Democrat from time to time, but recent actions of the GOP and the rhetoric of their supporters are driving me further from the party.

My personal opinion is this is an offensive on the middle and lower classes who are more likely to turn to these services. The rich and powerful seem to be, usually, better educated, or have access to 'discrete medical services' allowing them to quietly dispose of inconvenient conditions. After all, it would be a win win for them, would it not? A large population of lower class workers to exploit, then, a disease to eradicate the surplus population before they retire and demand the money taken from them for 'social security' during their working life.

Wild speculation? I honestly hope this to be the case, but cannot help but ponder the motives of the party of the rich and backers of corporate America.

Governor Haslam needs to be a one term elected employee, and his cronies with him.

By: budlight on 2/13/12 at 7:42

I would never support Planned Parenthood because of Margaret Sanger, the founder of the organization. Do your homework people. She was a racist.

"“'Civil rights' doesn't mean anything without a right to life!” declared Hunter. He and the other marchers were protesting the disproportionately high number of abortions in the black community. The high number is no accident. Many Americans—black and white—are unaware of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger's Negro Project. Sanger created this program in 1939, after the organization changed its name from the American Birth Control League (ABCL) to the Birth Control Federation of America (BCFA).1

The aim of the program was to restrict—many believe exterminate—the black population. Under the pretense of “better health” and “family planning,” Sanger cleverly implemented her plan. What's more shocking is Sanger's beguilement of black America's crème de la crème—those prominent, well educated and well-to-do—into executing her scheme. Some within the black elite saw birth control as a means to attain economic empowerment, elevate the race and garner the respect of whites.

The Negro Project has had lasting repercussions in the black community: “We have become victims of genocide by our own hands,” cried Hunter at the “Say So” march."

Research the "Say So" march and Ms. Sanger's background. She married a rich man for his money and abandoned her own children.

By: govskeptic on 2/13/12 at 7:48

The same amount or more was allocated to other agencies and clinics to
perform these services versus going to Planned Parenthood. Does that
one agency have some mystical or Constitutional right to be the recipient
of taxpayer dollars for their services? Do they really assist any clients on
the Planning of being a Parent?

By: rldavenport@com... on 2/13/12 at 8:10

budlight: Thanks for shedding the light of truth on PP, their history, and their hidden agenda through the years.

By: Moonglow1 on 2/13/12 at 8:21

Moonglow1: "The same amount or more was allocated to other agencies..." Name them. I would bet they would include the Religious League of The Tea Nut Nation.

This defunding is an attack on the poor and minorities. No question. The "1%" absolutely desire a subservient uneducated working class like they have in China. Read up on how your I-PODs are manufactured. The 1% want to replicate a "Chinese" worker mentality in the USA. They want you dumb, pregnant, religious, and grateful to them for your menial jobs. They are also doing a great job of pitting American's against one another. And oh my, whatever you do, don't join a union. Well thank goodness for unions. They will be needed more than ever to represent the "common man. " But wait, the "common man" wants to remain common, abused, subservient, and in debt and perpetual servitude. Do you really think the American dream is attainable for you. The answer is no. Unless you wake up soon. It may already be too late. The corporate megalomaniacs are very much in control. They have you brainwashed. I don't apologize for my long post. I am bombarded daily with nonsense spewed forth by a co-opted media so I welcome this venue.

By: Ask01 on 2/13/12 at 8:29

That was very enlightening, budlight. Is the organization still dedicated the same goal?

If so, I would expect to see lawsuits, rioting in the streets, and outright violence over an attempt to committ genocide on American soil with taxpayer dollars.

I suspect, whatever the shady beginnings, the service is probably accessed poor citizens of every color these days.

I'm sure other organizations provide similar services, but what is the return for the investment, so to speak, considering the name recognition of Planned Parenthood over smaller more regional operations? Let me stress, any service providing counselling on contraception and STDs, in addition to information, pro and con on abortion, even at a community level is vital and important.

What I did like from the story was the part about people stepping up and providing donations, which would be even more preferable than tax dollars.

By: ohplease on 2/13/12 at 8:53

I tried to research the Say So March and didn't find anything about it except a website that doesn't give any proofs of credibility -- no sources, no references in media, even Fox News, which you'd expect would run with it. When I searched African-American genocide in America, I found Herman Cain making claims. The fact is that anyone can say anything these days and people take it as truth. It's very sad if so many African-American women turn to abortion as a means of birth control, but it is related to lack of education about and access to birth control and poverty and family issues, as in lack of a father who can help in support. Have you noticed that the most pro-life people are often the ones who most want to cut funding for the poor and to deny birth control?

As for Planned Parenthood's history, I don't know about that. I do know that it began when the US was racist in about everything -- back of the bus, segregated schools, restrictions preventing any but whites in neighborhoods. Our country started as a slave-owning country with only white property-owning men able to vote. A few things have changed!

By: ohplease on 2/13/12 at 8:59

I forgot to say: Planned Parenthood was selected in a bidding process a few months ago. So the state broke a contract?

I just reread the article. The right-to-lifer Brian Harris castigated the Department of Health commissioner for attending a family-planning conference? Does that mean planning births to ensure healthy babies and families is not a public health issue and is not to be discussed? We're dealing with real fanaticism here!

By: localboy on 2/13/12 at 9:06

Good points, ohplease.

By: jsabrown on 2/13/12 at 9:51

So, to follow the logic, since Henry Ford published an anti-Semitic newspaper (which printed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion) and The International Jew, I would suppose budlight contends the automobile to be a singularly offensive device, worthy of his scorn.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/13/12 at 10:08

If Planed Parenthood had been in existence when I was borne, my parents could have opted out on me.

Sidney B. Itch.

By: pswindle on 2/13/12 at 4:06

Planned Parenhood was not around, but other means were if they so choose. Captain Nemo. I believe that everyone should have a choice. If you choose not to have an abortion that is your choice, and others may have a different opinion.

By: Nitzche on 2/13/12 at 5:42

let's see how to sum this up..........SHUT UP planned parenthood!

By: Radix on 2/14/12 at 10:46

Planned Parenthood might actually have some credibility with the people of Tennessee if they didn't get rich selling infanticide. Everything else they do is just political cover.

They should be defunded completely.

By: Radix on 2/14/12 at 10:48

PSwindle Great idea, let's make murder a legal choice for the perpetrator too. That's logic at work for you.

By: Radix on 2/14/12 at 10:51

"OhPlease" What Planned Parenthood does is so distasteful that they have to hide behind terms such as "Family Planning" to make it palatable to gullible people like you. Its just code for killing fetuses.

By: localboy on 2/14/12 at 11:12

Then wouldn't it be 'feticide' rather than 'infanticide'?

By: think on 2/15/12 at 2:50

Planned Parenthood has conveniently located clinics next to our most vulnerable populations all over the country. They claim to educate people and provide birth control, but there very existence is making education and birth control unnecessary because getting an abortion is affordably priced and conveniently located in your neighborhood.

Also, if you are under the delusion that an organization like Planned Parenthood uses some funds for one purpose and some for another, sit and think about it. They have buildings that perform multiple functions, a power bill that keeps all the lights on, receptionists that greet every patient and staffers that write all kinds of grants. You can play with accounting strategies all you want, at the end of the day any funds given to Planned Parenthood are given to an organization that provides abortions to young girls who never received the education and birth control that you thought you were paying for.

If they were effective at doing what everyone tries to claim they are doing, this whole thread would not be an issue right now.