Friday, October 27, 2023

Tennessee AG sues HHS over more than $7M in denied, diverted Title X funds

By Jon Styf, The Center Square, Oct. 27, 2023– Tennessee is suing the federal government over its denial of Title X family planning funding to the state.

Instead, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in September it would send Tennessee’s allotment of $3.9 million each to both the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood and Converge Inc. in Mississippi to expanded services into Tennessee.

HHS denied Tennessee its Title X funding earlier this year after issuing a notice letter. It did the same with Oklahoma.

“Title X recipients must follow all federal regulatory requirements regarding nondirective options counseling and referrals, including providing referrals for abortion upon client request,” the letter from HHS’ Office of Population Affairs said.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti argues in this week’s complaint HHS was attempting to coerce states into pro-abortion policy with the funding denials.

“We are suing to stop the federal government from playing politics with the health of Tennessee women,” Skrmetti said. “… Our lawsuit is necessary to ensure that Tennessee can continue its 50-year track record of successfully providing these public health services to the neediest populations.”

The complaint says Tennessee voters have shown an interest in valuing life by restricting elective abortions and promoting women carrying to term.

Skmetti’s office cited a 2022 review of the Tennessee Department of Health from HHS that said it is “the only agency with the capacity, staff, and expertise to administer Title X funds with integrity and without a gap in services in the state.”

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