State Health Dept. says county must pay for free condoms

The Tennessee Department of Health says Shelby County government is required to fund a grant to Planned Parenthood for the distribution of free condoms as part of larger effort to combat the spread of the HIV virus, reports the Memphis Daily News.

The Jan. 27 letter from state health department’s HIV prevention director, Melissa Morrison, surfaced Wednesday, Feb. 1, during Shelby County Commission committee sessions.

The commission delayed a vote on a $115,000 grant last year… But commissioner Walter Bailey plans to add the grant to Monday’s commission agenda. And the state’s position will be a factor in what is expected to be a protracted debate over the funding.

The commission has approved other grants to other agencies for the condom distribution, which is a pass-through of state funding. But some commissioners object to any funding for Planned Parenthood because of the abortion services it provides.

… Morrison’s letter to the county’s administrator of HIV prevention services, known as the Memphis Ryan White Program, says Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region was among the local agencies who applied in November for the program and their proposal was among those accepted in December by the county’s Division of Community Services..

“This failure to act is in direct violation of the obligation … of your grant contract, which provides that the grantee shall execute contracts with successful proposers at approved award amounts,” Morrison wrote. “Not only does this failure to complete the execution of a contract violate your contractual obligations to TDH (Tennessee Department of Health), we have reason to believe it may be motivated by matters unrelated to the ability of the proposed subgrantee to meet its obligations under the subgrant.”

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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