Finally breaking a deadlock, the Shelby County (Tennessee) Commissioners voted to award Christ Community Health Services a $400,000 contract for family planning services for the poor. This is the first time in 35 years that Planned Parenthood did not receive the funding.
Commissioner Melvin Burgess remarked, "Planned Parenthood — they have smoke built up doing this, and something they've been doing for years, so my thing is, why change now?"
Christ Community Health Services, whose mission is "to provide quality services in the name of Jesus Christ," will not perform abortions or offer emergency contraceptives.
In its application for the $400,000, Christ Community said that it would administer emergency contraceptives, but now says it won't because of its beliefs. Instead, it will contract that service to a third party.
Many citizens showed up for the Commissioner's debate, turning it into a fight about pro-life or pro-choice rather than the merits of the contract applications.
"When one believes that life begins at conception, which I validly do," Robert Hutton, a Christ Community supporter told the commissioners, "and if you have two options in providing services to one who does not materially support killing the unborn and providing services for those that do, there's no question. It would be immoral to vote to give the money to Planned Parenthood."
A church deacon remarked that issue was "definitely about abortion and taking the life of a child."
Sermons for Contraceptives.
Planned Parenthood supporters said that they should not be subjected to sermons in order to get help.
"I have the right to health care that is non-religious and non-judgmental," argued Abby Schoef.
"What is it going to do to the people who aren't Christian?" asked an unidentified woman. "I'm sorry to inform you that not all of us are Christians and not all of us believe."
"You know, you want to label me a religious terrorist," Commissioner Terry Roland told those who didn't want to listen to sermons to receive health care, "but that's fine. As long as I please God, it doesn't matter who I displease."
Planned Parenthood to Contest Contract Award.
Planned Parenthood plans to protest the awarding of the contract to Christ Community. It released a statement saying,
We are disappointed that the Shelby County Commission has seen fit to disregard the needs of the thousands of men, women and teens who rely on Planned Parenthood for health care. We know that many will continue to come to Planned Parenthood as their provider of choice, but now we will have to ask everyone to pay for some part of the cost of the services they receive. This decision is not in the best interest of the women and families of Shelby County and was the result of state and local political pandering. It is unfortunate that politics trumped people's needs.
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