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Ramsey: Feds’ Planned Parenthood Grant Subverts State Gov’t

Statement from Lt. Gov Ron Ramsey; July 5, 2012:  

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey made the following statement after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to give an annual grant of $395,000 to Planned Parenthood Memphis:

“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. The need for pro-life leadership in the White House has never been stronger.”

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Planned Parenthood: ‘Gateway Sexual Activity’ Law A Disservice to Students

Press Release from Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region, May 11, 2012: 

Tennessee has the tenth highest rate of teenage births in the United States. At Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region, we hear every day from young people who say they were never taught the facts about sex and pregnancy prevention. That’s why we were especially disappointed today to hear that Governor Bill Haslam had signed a bill that guts the state’s “family life” sexuality education program.

HB 3621/SB 3310, signed by Governor Haslam today, will change Tennessee’s family life curriculums to “exclusively and emphatically promote sexual risk avoidance through abstinence, regardless of a student’s current or prior sexual experience”—effectively denying students valuable and even life-saving information about contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

This new law also allows teachers or outside contractors to be sued for “encouraging” or “condoning” nonspecific “gateway sexual behavior.” Some critics have speculated that teachers could even be held liable if students hold hands or kiss in their presence.

Tennessee students need more information about puberty, their own bodies and proven methods that prevent pregnancy and the spread of disease. Denying them this prevention information in order to exclusively promote abstinence until marriage does our students a serious disservice.

Studies show that young people who are knowledgeable about contraceptive methods are less likely to take part in risky behavior and more likely to use a highly effective method of birth control when they do become sexually active. (See “Young Adults’ Contraceptive Knowledge, Norms and Attitudes: Associations with Risk of Unintended Pregnancy,” by Jennifer Frost, et al. of the Guttmacher Institute.)

Polls show that parents overwhelmingly support comprehensive and medically accurate sex education programs. In fact, a recent 2011 poll from the University of Memphis shows that vast majority of Shelby County residents wish that teenagers were provided more comprehensive information about sex.

“HB 3621/SB 3310, the abstinence-only sex education bill signed into law by Governor Haslam today is a step backward for the young people of Tennessee,” said Barry Chase, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region. “Most parents in Tennessee want students to get comprehensive sexuality education that includes messages about prevention as well as abstinence. They expect that the schools will equip their young people with the information they need to protect themselves. This bill ties the hands of educators in Tennessee and will prevent them from providing the comprehensive education that students want and need and their parents expect.”

To find out more about Planned Parenthood’s education programs, visit our website: www.ppgmr.org.

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Press Releases

TN Right to Life Praises Legislative Push for ‘Safer Climate for Abortion-Vulnerable Women’

Press Release from Tennessee Right to Life; April 2, 2012:

In a state where Courts have claimed that abortion facilities do not have to be licensed, members of Tennessee’s state House took steps today to create a safer climate for abortion-vulnerable women by requiring that physicians performing abortions must have hospital admitting privileges in the same community. In the event of complications following an abortion, a woman will be better assured of receiving post-abortion care from the physician responsible and knowledgeable of her specific condition and health history.

Pro-life physician Brent Boles spoke to the urgent need for such provisions in light of the state’s draconian pro-abortion policy under Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist and subsequent rulings claiming that laws requiring regulation and inspection of abortion facilities violate the supposed fundamental ‘right to abortion’ in the Tennessee Constitution.

“Currently, abortion facilities in Tennessee frequently do not provide any resource for patients to receive help or have questions answered after hours or on weekends. Patients are left to fend for themselves. They present to emergency rooms all over the state and they call GYN offices where the providers are not abortion providers and have no experience providing abortion services and they need help,” Boles said.

“Complications of any procedure are best managed by those providers with the most experience in the particular field,” said Boles. “Complications of abortion are best managed by abortion providers.”

Tennessee Right to Life urges pro-life Tennesseans to express appreciation to the 72 members of the state House who supported H.B. 3808, and especially to sponsor Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough.) The bill now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee,S.B. 3323, where it is sponsored by longtime pro-life leader, Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mount Juliet.)

To view the full House of Representatives debate, visit http://tnga.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=196&clip_id=5264 and click on HB3808.

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Health Care Liberty and Justice News Tax and Budget Transparency and Elections

Possible Fix to GOP’s ‘Family Planning’ Budget Flub

The Nashville-Davidson Metro Health Department has agreed to accept the full amount of its share of federal funding for family planning assistance, thus eliminating any funding Planned Parenthood would receive through the state to provide services in that area.

The move comes on the heels of a request by the Tennessee Department of Health commissioner, who had asked county health departments to expand family planning services, which would subsequently cut off payments to Planned Parenthood, a third-party nonprofit contractor that currently aids in that capacity.

The request was made at the direction of Gov. Bill Haslam, who sought to halt the flow of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood.

Prominent Republican elected leaders in the General Assembly say their long-running desire to defund the nonprofit abortion provider was accidentally thwarted when language preventing the move inexplicably showed up in the final version of the budget the Legislature passed last month.

The Memphis Department of Health — the only other Tennessee jurisdiction with a Planned Parenthood facility that receives Title X federal government funding — has not yet committed to expanding operations in exchange for additional dollars but is asking for more time to make a decision, according to a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Health.

The $359,000 boost will bring Metro Nashville’s health department budget for family planning services up to $894,700, according to a department spokesman, enabling the agency to take on more clients or seek out other clinics in the community to handle the overflow.

If Memphis accepts the federal funds, its same budget will climb to $1.345 million.

Gov. Haslam said this week his office was looking into options for eliminating government funding for Planned Parenthood, like the Republican-led Legislature intended. However, he said he does not believe he has the authority to cut $1.1 million in federal dollars to the independent clinics with a line-item veto.

Planned Parenthood offers women health care, birth control and STD counseling and medical services. And while U.S. law prohibits national tax dollars from directly funding abortions, the clinics run by the federally funded nonprofit do provide them.

Activists with Tennessee Right to Life wanted the governor to direct federal family-planning dollars solely to local health departments, so they may expand their operations instead of outsourcing to third-party nonprofit providers like Planned Parenthood.

“Our position has been for the governor, who ran as a pro-life candidate who specifically addressed this issue in 2010 as a candidate, to fulfill his campaign commitment,” said Brian Harrison, president of Tennessee Right to Life.

The group this week encouraged its network of abortion opponents to call and e-mail the governor, demanding he find a way to cut public funds to Planned Parenthood.

“To say that the public subsidy (for Planned Parenthood) is not assisting in the abortion-end of their business doesn’t pass the common-sense test, obviously,” said Harris.

Jeff Teague, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, denounced the effort to strip government funding from his organization.

“It’s pretty shocking that the people who are so obsessed with abortion are willing to sacrifice women’s health,” said Teague, who added that the centers will now have to charge women more money for health care.

Ranking Republican lawmakers in the Tennessee General Assembly aren’t inclined to reveal exactly how Planned Parenthood got “re-funded” in the rush to close out the session last month — a development that left Knoxville Sen. Stacey Campfield confused and angry.

“I’ve never seen anything like this happen in the past — where somebody just adds in wording to the budget without adding an amendment, without even the sponsor knowing about it,” said Campfield, who spearheaded the effort to deprive Planned Parenthood of government funding.

“Obviously it was done intentionally,” wrote Campfield in a blog post expressing his dismay.

Gerald McCormick, the House Republican Leader, says he doubts what happened was illegal or done in a spirit of contempt for Tennessee’s legislative processes.

“I don’t think there was anything sinister. It was just a technical correction,” he said. “I think it was an innocent maneuver.”

“Both these guys that I talked to are very much pro-life, and I don’t think they would do anything to sabotage anything in that movement,” McCormick said of the Senate lawmakers he believes are responsible.

Mark Norris, the Senate Republican leader, said he knew nothing of Planned Parenthood funding being reinserted in the budget.

Nor does he seem to really care how it got there. “Some people would say it’s a big conspiracy,” he said, adding that he isn’t particularly interested in “whodunit.”

“The main thing to me is the health care needs of these women who may disdain Planned Parenthood as much as I do,” said Norris. “Their health care needs need to be met.”

House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, issued an ambiguous joint statement late on the Friday before the Memorial Day holiday weekend seemingly defending the decision to add back the abortion-provider’s government funding, but without taking responsibility for it or naming the lawmakers who directed the maneuver.

Ramsey and Harwell said “confusion” over the funding was “unfortunate,” but the move was legally necessary.

“The Office of Legal Services advised House and Senate leadership that it is unconstitutional to amend general law through the appropriations bill (Article II, Section 17), an interpretation which would have put the entire budget document in jeopardy,” the Harwell-Ramsey statement said. “It was not our intent to allow funding for Planned Parenthood. Our majority in the General Assembly clearly meant to defund them.”

Upon learning Metro Nashville’s health department would take over the federal funding normally sent to Planned Parenthood, Lt. Gov. Ramsey congratulated the governor on the decision.

“I was proud to lead the charge to turn over family planning services to the county health departments effectively defunding the organization in 93 out of 95 counties. I’d like to praise the Governor for working to completely turn off the spigot of taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood,” said the Blountville Republican in a press release.

Harwell told TNReport the Legislature took the wrong approach in trying to defund Planned Parenthood in the final days of the Legislative session.

“Clearly we know that the members’ intentions were good,” said the House speaker. “I think the way that we attempted to go about doing it was not the correct way. You cannot change general law through the appropriations bill. And therefore we had to make the change that we did.”

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Press Releases

Ramsey Congratulates Haslam on Efforts to ‘Defund’ Planned Parenthood

Press Release from Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey; June 10, 2011:

Davidson County severs ties, Shelby expected to follow

(Nashville) – Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R – Blountville) praised the work of Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Health for moving to administratively defund Planned Parenthood.

It was announced today that Davidson County is ending its contract with the organization and assuming control of all family planning services. Shelby County is also expected to begin the process of transitioning away from its Planned Parenthood contract.

“We are at long last moving towards the final stages of the Planned Parenthood shell game,” said Lt. Gov. Ramsey. “It has always been the ambition of Republicans in the legislature to defund this organization. I was proud to lead the charge to turn over family planning services to the county health departments effectively defunding the organization in 93 out of 95 counties. I’d like to praise the Governor for working to completely turn off the spigot of taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood.”

Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the country. While no state funds have gone to fund abortion, health departments have in the past contracted family planning services to Planned Parenthood. Two years ago, the General Assembly passed a law handing over family planning responsibilities to county health departments. Unfortunately, both Shelby and Davidson Counties continued to contract with Planned Parenthood. The decisions by this final two health department represent the final vestiges of state collaboration with Planned Parenthood.

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Ramsey, Harwell: Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Have Jeopardized Budget

Statement fromm Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, and Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville; May 27, 2011:

“The confusion surrounding the language in the budget regarding Planned Parenthood has been unfortunate. The Office of Legal Services advised House and Senate leadership that it is unconstitutional to amend general law through the appropriations bill (Article II, Section 17), an interpretation which would have put the entire budget document in jeopardy. It was not our intent to allow funding for Planned Parenthood. Our majority in the General Assembly clearly meant to defund them. We are currently working with pro-life activists to resolve this issue with legislation and we will put it to rest immediately upon the legislature’s return in January.”

Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey and Speaker Beth Harwell