(WMC-TV) - After a fierce battle over Shelby County's family planning service contract, a new provider took over Tuesday.
Shantelle Leatherwood of Christ Community Health Services said the 501c3 launched Shelby County's Title X program without a hitch.
"All of the clinics are set up," she said.
For roughly three decades, Planned Parenthood ran the county's family services program. But after a knock down, drag out battle, Mayor Mark Luttrell convinced the Shelby County Commission to grant Christ Community the contract.
"Hopefully, the community will give us a chance to prove ourselves," Leatherwood said.
Planned Parenthood performs abortions, and questioned if Christ Community could fulfill the Title X requirement to offer abortion counseling.
"Christ Community doesn't provide abortion services," Leatherwood said. "But, we're required to provide pregnancy options counseling to women if they have a positive pregnancy."
Christ Community launched four Title X locations Tuesday, in Binghampton, Southwest Memphis, North Memphis and Midtown, offering a range of health services to low-income residents on a sliding pay scale - from STD education to reproductive testing.
"The exams would include routine pap smears, routine breast exams, cancer and colon screenings," Leatherwood said.
They serve adults and adolescents.
"We'll talk to teens about attempts to resist sexual coercion, and also encourage them to include their family in their family planning decision-making," Leatherwood said.
Leatherwood said they won't use the setting to practice religion.
"We won't preach to individuals," she said. We care about individuals. We want to meet them at their point of need."
The Shelby County Democratic Party released this statement calling the move "a misguided crusade against a procedure not even covered by Title X funds."
"The stakes of this decision are high," the statement said. "Taking into account the rate of teen sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, infant mortality, and high poverty rates associated with unplanned pregnancies, we feel this decision is irresponsible, tone deaf and reckless considering the challenges facing our community."
- Shelby County Democratic Party response: http://shelbydem.org/news
- Christ Community Health Services information and locations: http://www.christcommunityhealth.org
- Title X Requirements: http://www.hhs.gov/opa/pdfs/2001-ofp-guidelines-complete.pdf