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Defunding Planned Parenthood in Tennessee – Tying Together the News

June 13, 2011

I posted on Friday about Nashville’s Department of Health deciding to accept the funds that would normally go to Planned Parenthood for family planning services, and stating when they did so they were taking the money on the condition that they did not have to serve the same number of people. A commenter here – who appears to be close to the issue – pointed out that the county would probably need more local tax dollars to provide the same amount of service that Planned Parenthood provided with a combination of those federal funds and private donations.

I saw a few news items today that don’t make a coherent whole, but that I felt were related to the issue.

1. State Health Commissioner Susan Cooper reportedly sent a letter to the Metro Public Health Department urging them to take the federal funds that would normally go to Planned Parenthood. According to the Tennessean, her letter urged the department to “‘think creatively and consider working with community partners’ to deliver family planning services.”

Um, there’s already a community organization that is well-equipped with appropriate expertise for delivering family planning services. It’s called Planned Parenthood.

2. I have never really thought of Susan Cooper as a bowing-to-political-pressure, in-line-with-social-conservatives-instead-of-public-health sort of health commissioner. But we have a new Republican governor, and a newly more Republican state legislature. And then I ran across this news piece from January stating that she’s still in the position on an “interim” basis under said new Governor.

So I just assume that “interim” means “as long as the folks in charge are accomplishing political goals.” Which apparently include providing less care to fewer women, at least in the undefined short term.

3. That new Governor, Bill Haslam (R), was summed up just a week or so ago as proclaiming that “‘Unless Tennesseans make an effort to improve personal health, they could see more budget cuts in their children’s education as health-care costs continue to drain the state budget,’ Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday.”

So, um, your kids might get even worse educations if we don’t all get healthier in Tennessee. But maybe “we” don’t seem to include women who need birth control, cancer screenings, or other family planning and reproductive health services, and especially not those women who struggle to afford such care. Those people can just pay more, somewhere else, as long as it serves the social conservative agenda.

4. I’ll just be over here banging my head against the wall.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2011 7:16 am

    My dad is reasonably high up in the TN Dept of Health. He has nothing kind to say about Commissioner Cooper.

    • June 14, 2011 7:40 am

      I don’t know her at all, just have very limited general impressions – I tend to assume there is an awful lot of political pressure from the top involved, but I don’t mean for that to absolve the state or local public health folks of their role and responsibility in this situation.


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