Title X family planning funds were redirected from Planned Parenthood to Christ Community Health Services in Shelby County, Tennessee. This happened in November, 2011. Christ Community Health Services refuses to give abortions or emergency contraception, which is the likely reason the funds were relocated. However, they have proved themselves unable to handle the excess patient load or handle the money effectively, resulting in a 93% drop in women’s healthcare services in the county.
While the change in funding is technically a violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment of the United States Constitution (it’s that uncomfortable bit about the separation of church and state and how the government can’t favor any religion over any other), it’s a sad case of religious politics in action.
Mother Jones has more:
Local officials decided that instead of giving that Title X money to Planned Parenthood for health screenings, STD tests, and birth control, they’d instead give it to Christ Community Health Services, a religious organization that refuses to provide abortions or refer women to others who would provide them. The organization also does not offer emergency contraception, and is reportedly looking to expand to create more “crisis pregnancy clinics” that offer “counselors who can discuss adoption and other life-affirming options” with women.
But it turns out that Christ Community Health Services has not been nearly as efficient at using Title X funds to provide family planning services, reports the Memphis Flyer (viaWomen’s Health News). Between July 2011 and June 2012, more than $500,000 of the $1.3 million grant the county received was not used at all. Hannah Sayle reports that Christ Community Health Services was averaging just 51 Title X visits per month in early 2012, compared to Planned Parenthood’s 841 visits in August 2011.
The county health director, Yvonne Madlock, tried to explain, ”I think all of us had some gearing up to do in order to be able to create the level of staff available to provide the services and communication with the community as to where services are available,” Madlock said. “Change takes time. Systems have to ramp up.”
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you have a problem with abortions or emergency contraception, don’t use them. But don’t defund a system that has proven itself time and time again to be an excellent provider of women’s health.
Think Progress aptly said,
As women’s health advocates point out, case studies like these illustrate the consequences of diverting funding away from Planned Parenthood and expecting other health clinics to pick up the patient load. Some, like Christ Community Health Services, are certainly not equivalents to Planned Parenthood in terms of the family planning services they provide. Others, like thecash-strapped clinics across Texas that are being forced to close their doors, clearly don’t have enough resources to carry on the work that local Planned Parenthood chapters typically do. Using Planned Parenthood as a symbol in the ongoing War on Women has serious, disastrous results for the low-income women who do not have other options when it comes to their reproductive health care.
This war on women needs to stop.
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