Planned Parenthood sues Tennessee over cuts to HIV programs

Planned Parenthood sues Tennessee over cuts to HIV programs

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By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Two Tennessee Planned Parenthood groups are suing the state Department of Health for denying the non-profit more than $150,000 in grant money to participate in programs funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At stake is federal funding for HIV and syphilis prevention programs, educational programs that Planned Parenthood says are being eliminated without any explanation.

Outside the Planned Parenthood branch in Knoxville Friday, pro-life supporters who stand there each week applauded the state's decision to pull the funding.    

"You can give it to other organizations besides Planned Parenthood, somebody who does abortions and kill babies," said pro-life supporter Cecil Clark.

In its lawsuit, Planned Parenthood accuses the state of arbitrarily denying the program's funding in December and February.

Planned Parenthood says politics were the driving force behind the decision to de-fund the programs.  

"Gov. Haslam and leaders in the General Assembly have made no secret of the fact they've wanted to de-fund Planned Parenthood. It's a politically motivated attack against Planned Parenthood," said Jeff Teague, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee.    

The organization says eliminating the funding will affect thousands of young women who couldn't afford HIV education and prevention programs.  

"We believe that HIV prevention needs to be a priority in Tennessee, but unfortunately we're doing a horrible job in providing young people the skills and information young people need to protect themselves," Teague said.  

Tennessee Right to Life, a pro-life organization, says the state funding for Planned Parenthood has gone on long enough.

"And now Planned Parenthood is trying with the lawsuit to take by force what the people of Tennessee are no longer willing to give them," said Stacy Dunn, director of the Knox County chapter of Tennessee Right to Life. 

The lawsuit is expected to be heard in federal court in Middle Tennessee. The first hearing is expected to take place in the next couple of weeks.

This all comes after the Susan G. Komen Foundation reversed its decision to deny funding to Planned Parenthood.  

However, the Tennessee affiliates of Planned Parenthood do not receive grant money from the Komen Foundation.

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