(From state Rep. Andy Holt’s office)–NASHVILLE, August 25, 2015– I continue to hear from many people, including Planned Parenthood, that the State of Tennessee provides no tax-payer dollars to the organization. Unfortunately, I do not sit on any of the committees that relate to the operation of Tennessee abortion clinics. Therefore, I had to conduct my own independent investigation with the assistance of Rep. Bryan Terry, MD (R-Murfreesboro) into Planned Parenthood’s funding. The claim that Planned Parenthood receives no Tennessee tax-payer dollars simply isn’t true.
Last Wednesday, the Tennessee General Assembly held a special hearing on Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers in the State of Tennessee in an attempt to discover whether or not any Tennessee clinics had been selling aborted fetal parts for profit. We were informed by the Tennessee Department of Health that there was no way of knowing whether or not Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers had violated the law. These organizations could very well be violating federal law right under our nose and no one would know the difference. I expect new legislation next year to guarantee more transparency. During this hearing, funding was not discussed.
Last April, in the House Health Committee, Rep. Terry asked Planned Parenthood of Tennessee whether or not they received tax-payer funds. A Planned Parenthood representative told Rep. Terry that Middle and East Tennessee Planned Parenthood received no public funds (hour 2, minute 17). Another Planned Parenthood representative told Rep. Terry that West Tennessee Planned Parenthood provided no-cost contraception, but never said whether or not they received public funds. As it turns out, this misleading rhetoric is a lie.
Working with Rep. Terry, I discovered that over the past 3 years Planned Parenthood of Tennessee has received at least $108,100 tax-payer dollars. Recall the Planned Parenthood representative that declared their Middle and East Tennessee abortion clinics received no tax-payer money? As it turns out, almost $4,000 of the $108,100 went to Planned Parenthood’s Middle Tennessee clinic.
Some claim that this money is from the federal government, not Tennessee. They also claim that the Hyde Amendment and mirroring state law prohibit tax-payer dollars sent to Planned Parenthood from being used to perform abortions. At best, these claims are disingenuous.
While the federal government paid the majority of this $108,100 bill, the state of Tennessee is required to pay 10 percent. Therefore, over the past 3 years, at least $10,800 has been taken directly from Tennessee’s budget, which is funded directly by your tax dollars, and given to Planned Parenthood of Tennessee. As for the remaining $97,200, it should be noted that Tennessee tax-payers fund the federal government. That is Tennessee tax-payer money.
The argument that this money cannot be used to provide abortions is very misleading rhetoric. These laws are nothing more than feel-good legislation passed by politicians so they can tell their constituents they did something. The truth is there’s no way of enforcing the law. Saying this money cannot be used to provide abortion is like saying money we send to Iran cannot be used to develop a nuclear bomb because they are only allowed to use the money to pay the light bill on their nuclear facilities. Last I checked, using tax-payer dollars taken from hard-working Tennesseans to pay the rent on an abortion clinic is money being used to provide abortive services.
I am incredibly disturbed that Planned Parenthood of Tennessee’s representatives would come to testify before an official state committee hearing and blatantly lie to multiple elected officials about their funding. If they lied to us about their funding, which we can easily find, what else are they lying about that may be harder to find?
It should be noted that Governor Haslam and many members of the legislature have fought hard to completely defund Planned Parenthood in the state. However, those who would tell you that Tennessee does not provide tax-payer dollars to Planned Parenthood are not being truthful. We clearly have more work to do.
Andy Holt is a Republican Tennessee State Representative representing Weakley, as well as, parts of Obion and Carroll counties. Dr. Bryan Terry is a Republican Tennessee State Representative representing parts of Rutherford County.