The organization has been awarded a $395,000 Title X grant. Bypassing the state, Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis (PPGMR) applied for Title X funding directly from the federal government, and received a little more than half of the $748,000 they applied for.
Although abortion has long been the sticking point in debates over funding for Planned Parenthood, according to federal law, no Title X funds can be used for abortion services.
This counts as a victory for one of Memphis' leading family planning providers, after a drawn-out battle over Title X funding last year. In April of 2011, an amendment to the state law required that Title X funding be apportioned directly to county health departments across the state, instead of subcontracted to organizations like Planned Parenthood. When an overburdened and ill-prepared Shelby County Health Department opted to subcontract the family planning services out to a local health organization, it issued a request for proposals, effectively pitting Planned Parenthood, the longtime recipient of Title X funding, against Christ Community Health Services, the inevitable recipient of the funding.
The move to bypass the state government is not wholly unusual, says Barry Chase, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis. Other family planning organizations across the country have received Title X funding directly from the federal government in much the same way PPGMR has.
"Since the county decided not to fund us," says Chase, "we felt there were women in Shelby County who weren't receiving care."
Congressman Steve Cohen's office issued a press release with the following statement from Cohen:
“Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region has been helping Memphis and Shelby County residents get the health care they need to lead happier, healthier lives for years,” said Congressman Cohen. “These new federal funds will help ensure the Title X Family Planning Program reaches those who need help the most in underserved communities.”
But the Tennessee Right to Life group and Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey were not so enthusiastic. Ramsey issued the following statement:
"By funneling federal tax dollars to abortion providers in Tennessee, Barack Obama has proven once again why he needs to be defeated for a second term. Tennessee has taken a stand against Planned Parenthood's pro-abortion shell game and defunded these organizations for a reason. This money is a clear attempt to subvert the actions of state government and prop up a culture of death on the decline."
We'll have more on the story as it develops in next week's Fly By section.