Commissioners debate proposal to replace Planned Parenthood

(WMC-TV) - Battle lines have been drawn in the fight over who should receive federal family planning money in Shelby County.

Planned Parenthood supporters packed a Shelby County Commission committee meeting Wednesday during a debate about how to spend a $785,000 federal family planning grant.

"What is it that Planned Parenthood does not provide that has constituted us to change?" asked Commissioner James Harvey.

The Shelby County Health Department pitched a proposal to replace Planned Parenthood with Christ Community Health, and keep almost $300,000 in grant money to expand their own family planning services.

"We your approval to contract with Christ Community Health Centers in the amount of $397,900," Health Department Director Yvonne Madlock said.

According to Madlock, Christ Community Health can offer more services. But Planned Parenthood supporters fear the proposal is more about politics than health.

"While they do conduct abortions, that is not the only service they officer by far," Planned Parenthood supporter Erika Washington said.

Planned Parenthood's Barry Chase warned of what would happen without his organization's involvement in the community.

"I think there will be lots of women who will have to go without birth control," he said. "We have an epidemic of unplanned pregnancy."

Christ Community Health's Bert Waller promised to provide the same services the government requires under the Title 10 grant criteria.

"It really does grieve me that we're in a debate about whether to maintain the status quo as if the status quo is the gold standard," he said.

In the end, the item failed in committee, when the commission vote resulted in a 5 to 5 tie.

While the item failed in committee, it will be revisited again on Monday at the full commission meeting.

Planned parenthood says if the county replaces them, they will no longer to be able to provide their services for free.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.