Kathleen Gilbert

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Last Tennessee county readies to kick Planned Parenthood funding

Kathleen Gilbert

NASHVILLE, Tennessee, June 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The lieutenant governor of Tennessee has announced that the last remaining county in the state to fund Planned Parenthood will soon turn off the spigot.

A press release from the office of Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey on Friday stated that Shelby County is “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 Ramsey.

Two years ago, the state’s General Assembly passed a law handing over family planning responsibilities to county health departments. However, two counties, Shelby and Davidson Counties, continued to contract with Planned Parenthood.

Davidson County has now announced that it is ending its contract with the abortion provider and assuming control of all family planning services, according to the press release, leaving only Shelby County left.

A spokesperson with the Metro Public Health Department, which serves Davidson County, told the Tennessean that the department was in the midst of reviewing whether it could provide all nonabortion family planning services within its own clinics. The head of the department has expressed confidence that such a shift could work without noticeably affecting public access to the services.

“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,” wrote Metro Health Director William Paul to state Health Commissioner Susan Cooper, as reported by The Tennessean.

The defunding of Planned Parenthood represents a major victory for pro-life Republicans in the Tennessee legislature, who have long fought public funding for the abortion provider - a fact acknowledged by Ramsey.  “It has always been the ambition of Republicans in the legislature to defund this organization,” he said.

A new law in Indiana that precludes state contracts with abortion-providing organizations such as Planned Parenthood met with a swift parry from the Obama administration last month, which has threatened to cut off the state’s entire $4 billion Medicaid allocation if the law is not extinguished.

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