February 9, 2012
Two Planned Parenthood groups are suing Tennessee for denying them grants to participate in CDC-funded HIV and syphilis prevention programs. The suit, filed Feb. 2 by Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee (PPMET) and Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region, asks a federal judge to intervene and grant an injunction against the state.
According to the suit, the two groups have participated in HIV and syphilis prevention programs for more than a decade, largely with CDC funding. Last year they received nearly $150,000 and provided more than 15,000 people with prevention, testing, and education services.
Planned Parenthood applied last year for 2012 program funding, which it was awarded in August, the suit says. However, in December the state notified the group it would not be allowed to participate. A state Health Department official also said Planned Parenthood "would not be approved for other grant funding for which it might apply in the future."
In the suit, Planned Parenthood says the state arbitrarily denied it funding in December and January, without providing a reason, after approving it in August. The organization also accuses the state of violating its First Amendment rights, as well as patients' rights, by restricting access to such services based solely on an aversion to abortion, a service associated with the group.
While the state did not provide a reason for denying the grants, Gov. Bill Haslam and his political allies have openly expressed their opposition to government funding for Planned Parenthood. The Tennessee Department of Health declined comment on the suit and the defunding.
The Tennessean (Nashville)
02.03.2012; Brian Haas
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