Tenn. Axes Planned Parenthood Funds, Center Ends HIV Testing

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com February 09 2012 3:23 PM ET

A program to provide HIV tests in Memphis, Tenn. has been terminated because the state of Tennessee has cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.

The Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center has been collaborating with Planned Parenthood for the past three years to provide "the only regularly-scheduled, after-hours HIV testing in the Mid-South," the organization said in a statement Wednesday. However, the state denied all of Planned Parenthood's access to grants for HIV testing.

"Our strong collaboration with Planned Parenthood to provide HIV testing has improved the lives of hundreds of people every year," Will Batts, Executive Director of MGLCC, said. "Losing this vital program will put the health and well-being of many Memphians at risk."

Batts said the center would try to find alternate ways to sustain the HIV testing program, which has provided results for more than 500 people since the program began in 2008.

"MGLCC considers the setback to our HIV testing program a great tragedy," he said, "but we hope the setback will be only a temporary one."

Just a week ago, Planned Parenthood was the target of conservatives, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation for The Cure announced that it would cut off funding that went to Planned Parenthood for breast health programs for low-income women. The decision was quickly reversed after a nation-wide call for the grant money to be reinstated. The controversy also led to the resignation of Komen's politically conservative president Karen Handel.