Memphis: Women Lose Access to Medical Services After Planned Parenthood Is Defunded

It's assumed faith-based community centers can just pick up the slack, but in one city, reality says otherwise.

Memphis, Tennessee defunds Planned Parenthood
Women in Memphis, Tennessee have less access to healthcare after city defunded Planned Parenthood (Photo: Planned Parenthood.com)
A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades has previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and a medical writer.

Numerous states in the past year have attempted to defund Planned Parenthood in an effort to restrict their populations’ access to abortions or female-centered birth control. 

Alternet.org reports that in Shelby County, Tennessee, which includes Memphis, the local Planned Parenthood was defunded last year in favor of giving its Title X money to a faith-based community center. Since that happened, medical services provided to local women dropped by 93 percent.

MORE: Join Planned Parenthood In Telling The Government to Stop Playing Doctor

Title X monies are federally funded dollars given to the state to spend on family planning services for low-income women who need them. In the hands of Planned Parenthood, those funds―which cannot legally be used for abortions―go towards services like STD screenings, Pap smears, breast exams, and contraception.

Since Shelby officials funneled its Title X funds to a faith-based community organization named Christ the Community Center, the center has not been willing to provide any of those services. Instead, it operates more like a traditional “crisis pregnancy center,” offering pregnancy tests, anti-abortion counseling and mommy classes.

But the difficulty lies not just in the kind of limited services the center is willing to provide. There’s also an issue of its administration knowing how to allocate resources and having the ability to efficiently serve the needs of an entire community.

In Memphis, these points are proving to be the center’s downfall. Mother Jones reports that between July 2011 and June 2012, more than $500,000 of grant money the county received went unused by Christ the Community Center.

And according to the Memphis Flyer, during the month of August, when Planned Parenthood would normally have seen 841 patients, the center saw only 51.

Betsy Phillips, who covers the issue for the Nashville Scene, wrote simply, “That’s bad. The money they didn’t use means patients they didn’t see, tests they didn’t run, healthcare they didn’t provide.”

Fortunately for the women of Memphis, the Obama administration recently stepped in and awarded family planning funds directly to the local Planned Parenthood, allowing it to resume providing medical care. But the city serves as an example of what happens when politicians decide the medical fate of its citizens.

Do you think examples like Memphis Tennessee’s will serve to change lawmakers minds, or is defunding Planned Parenthood a permanent cultural trend?

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