Tennessee’s Version of Defunding Planned Parenthood, or Why Fewer Nashville Women Will Be Able to Access Family Planning Services
Tennessee’s recent budget included a provision to strip family planning funds from Planned Parenthood. These are non-abortion funds that paid for women to receive care such as birth control. There was a bit of political drama about it; I’ll refer you here to catch up.
Today, in the wake of this drama, it was announced that the Davidson County (Nashville) health department would take over the $335,000 federal grant that used to go to Planned Parenthood for family planning.
Honestly, I can’t even come up with a coherent response to this right now.
If I’m reading correctly the letter from William Paul, director of the Metro Public Health Department of Nashville/Davidson County, the Nashville area health department is accepting the funds that would have gone to Planned Parenthood with the understanding that they will not serve all of the women/patients who were previously being served.
The Memphis and Nashville departments have reportedly already stated that they did not have the capacity to absorb all of the patients who were covered via the funds to Planned Parenthood. That seems to be the entire point of the relationship, of having the family planning funds go through Planned Parenthood, leaving the local health department to focus their efforts and limited capactiy elsewhere. As explained in the news:
County health departments in all 95 counties provide similar services with Title X funding but in Shelby and Davidson counties, the health departments have told the state they cannot serve everyone who needs them. So the state contracts with Planned Parenthood in the two counties to supplement the public agencies’ work.
The letter reads, with my emphasis added:
This acceptance is based on our understanding that the increased funding is not linked to a specific number of additional clients, as per your letter of June 3rd. It was our understanding earlier that the funding was tied to a specific caseload, and the proposed additional funding would represent only partial funding for the required caseload. As you know, we do not have local tax dollars available to expand this program. This combination of factors precluded us from accepting the full amount of funding available to Davidson County as it was offered in previous years.
We are confident that over time we can serve nearly the same number of clients that are currently served, and we will do what we can to ensure that these important services are not lost or adversely affected in Davidson County by this realignment.
What this sounds like to me?
We’ll take the money into the local health department because we understand that you find putting any money through Planned Parenthood icky, even if it’s to help women actually prevent unwanted pregnancies. We hope you understand that we’re not going to serve all of those women who are currently being served. We hope to get there eventually. Please to give us the money now.
Right. Because it’s a decent public health solution as long as we can stick it to Planned Parenthood, even if fewer women actually receive public health services.