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Lawmaker introduces bill to defund Planned Parenthood in Tennessee

Planned Parenthood. (WZTV, file)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) - A Tennessee lawmaker introduced a bill this week to pull any state funding from Planned Parenthood.

Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, introduced the bill to uphold the 2014 decision from the federal appeals court to prevent state funding from going to Planned Parenthood in Tennessee.

In 2014, the House passed a resolution to make it easier for states like Tennessee to deny federal family-planning funds to groups such as Planned Parenthood that also perform abortions.

"A false narrative exists in Tennessee that Planned Parenthood doesn’t receive Tennessee taxpayer dollars," said Matlock. "Media and professional politicians from both sides of the aisle have reinforced this false narrative time and time again to protect their funding. It is beyond time for Tennessee leaders to show integrity and honesty by putting this to bed once and for all."

In 2011, state lawmakers diverted funds directly received by Planned Parenthood through the Tennessee Department of Health, but Matlock said that did not defund Planned Parenthood.

“The claim that diverting funds and funneling them through a state department somehow defunds Planned Parenthood is misleading and dishonest,” said Matlock. “Planned Parenthood themselves admitted to still receiving money.”

Matlock cited a 2015 investigation by Rep. Andy Holt, R- Dresden, that found Planned Parenthood in Tennessee received $108,100 taxpayer dollars with just under $11,000 directly from the state. Tennessee Planned Parenthood Executive Director Jeff Teague said the state funds were for TennCare patients seen at its clinics.

A spokesperson with the Tennessee Democratic Party said state Democrats are against the bill because it would prevent women from accessing preventative care at Planned Parenthood centers around the state.

"Planned Parenthood provides essential health care services – including birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment – to 18,000 women in Tennessee," Ken Jobe said. "They choose Planned Parenthood either because it’s the only provider available or because they believe it is the best choice for their needs. Planned Parenthood receives reimbursements for providing services, just like any other hospital or health care provider."

Jobe said this bill would eliminate those services for women in Tennessee with no plan to replace them.

Despite reaction from the Democratic lawmakers, Matlock said he doesn't expect any opposition to this legislation based on statements from Planned Parenthood.

"I know my Republican colleagues will stand by me and finally codify, once and for all, that Planned Parenthood can receive no taxpayer dollars," Matlock said. "In addition, because Planned Parenthood and their allies on the left push a narrative that they don’t receive taxpayer dollars to begin with, they shouldn’t have a single bit of opposition to the legislation either.”

Tennessee Democrats say the bill is part of a "larger attack on health care in Tennessee."

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