The Foul in Fowler

There was a fight this past legislative session which David “I Make Stuff Up Because the Means Justifies the Ends” Fowler of Tennessee Right to Life purports to have won:

Pro-life Tennesseans ended the state Legislative session with an impressive win on a long sought priority: removal of preferential treatment for Planned Parenthood, the state’s largest promoter and provider of abortion services.

By strong majorities of 25-7 in the state Senate and 69-22 in the state House, pro-life legislators in both parties took action to remove language first placed into Tennessee law during the early 1970’s which specifically named abortion provider Planned Parenthood as an officially recognized adjunct to state family planning services.

In addition to removing the clause, pro-life legislators enacted language which mandates that the Tennessee Department of Health give priority and preference to local public health departments in the awarding of family planning funds rather than private, non-profit organizations.

If Fowler and his ilk continue to ignore the good work that Planned Parenthood does to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in Tennessee which thereby reducing the number of total abortions, then it’s only a matter of time before they will come after your contraceptives for the same purpose – to further their own myopic agenda.

Oh wait, they already are. Fowler knows that the Title X funds represented in this legislation cannot be used to end pregnancies and he also know that for nearly 40 years, Planned Parenthood in Tennessee has received Title X family planning dollars and have used the money to provide reproductive and sexual health care – including contraception – to over 11,500 men and women in Tennessee who could otherwise not afford it.

Better start stocking up on your prophylactics while you still can.

Watch the heroics of some of Tennessee’s Democratic legislators who tried to stop this “compromise bill” from passing.

Rep. JoAnne Favors (D-Chattanooga):

Rep. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville):

Chairman Mike Turner (D-Old Hickory):

Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville):

Rep. Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis):

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Bizarro Hill Update

Woods at Pith has the “We’re making a spectacle of what we pretend to want and are going to pass legislation that does just the opposite of what we pretend to want” HB1756 discussion wrap up:

State House Republicans are desperately trying to piss on the evil Planned Parenthood’s leg this session, but they’re missing the mark with a bill that just passed the House Health and Human Resources Committee. Aimed only at Nashville and Memphis, where too many poor women are getting pregnant to suit the Republicans, the legislation by Rep. Joey Hensley directs the administration to give priority to the county health departments in distributing federal family planning money. Unfortunately for the wingnuts, those departments don’t want the money and have never applied for it. Their staffs aren’t large enough to provide the services. Therefore, it’ll keep going to Planned Parenthood.

The committee voted 13-8 for the bill over the protests of Democrats. Rep. Joanne Favors, D-Chattanooga, turned her ire on Hensley, who is a physician. “I don’t know what your agenda is,” she scolded him, “but it’s certainly not because you’re concerned about patients.”

Afterward, the ACLU’s Hedy Weinberg said, “They claiming they’re trying to stop abortions, but Planned Parenthood actually prevents unwanted pregnancies through quality family planning services.”

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Grand Old Prophylactics

The Health and Human Resources Committee is meeting as I write this and will soon hear HB1756 – a bill that would establish “a new methodology for disposition of family planning funds that disburses funds to public women’s health services programs before other providers are funded.” That’s a fancy-pants way of saying that they want to strip funding from one of the best public reproductive health organizations that actually, you know, works to reduce unplanned pregnancies – Planned Parenthood.

Besides doing absolutely nothing for the living, breathing citizens of Tennessee during the first session of the General Assembly they’ve controlled in roughly 140 years (10% unemployment rate? Hello?), Republicans are now lying about the intent of their true legislative agenda.

One can assume, based on the opportunistic and self-congratulatory display during last night’s passage of SJR127, that Rep. Joey Hensley (R-Howenwald) and the rest of the sponsors of HB1756 want to reduce the number of abortions in the state of Tennessee. Yet, this morning we see them attacking one organization that does just that.

For nearly 40 years, Planned Parenthood in Tennessee has received Title X family planning dollars and have used the money to provide reproductive and sexual health care – including contraception to, you know, prevent unplanned pregnancies – to over 11,500 men and women in Tennessee who could otherwise not afford it.

Since Hensley et. al. must know that Title X funds cannot be used to end pregnancies, one has to wonder, what the hell are they doing? And what actual benefit is this waste of time legislation providing to out of work Tennesseans, broken down schools, and malnourished kids?

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Summary: Our guests include Paul Kuhn of NORML, Jeff Teague of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, Chris Ford of Tennessee Conservation Voters, and Elbert Ventura of Media Matters for America.

Part 1 – Om nom nom nom nom Intro, to do list (see below), and news items: the Fifth Summit of the Americas, the handshake heart ’round the right-wing echo chamber, and the torture memos.

[27.6MB 24:05 download MP3]

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Independence Day – Martina McBride
Cannonball – The Breeders (Last Splash)

Part 2 – Interview with Paul Kuhn It’s 4/20, yo, so we decided to interview our local “connection” to NORML, the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (The Fightin’ Bogarts!). Paul Kuhn, partner with an investment management firm here in Nashville by day and NORML supporter, activist, and board member by night, discusses the mission of the organization, the state of legalization and decriminalization, and his deeply personal connection to the medical side of the argument. [25.1 MB 21:56 download MP3]

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Part 3- Media Matters for America Smackdown Media Matters research fellow, Elbert Ventura, has a list and the tea party organizers are on it. [9.4MB 08:12 download MP3]

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Part 4 – Interview with Jeff Teague Jeff Teague is the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee. Planned Parenthood does such good work to educate men and women of all ages about their reproductive health through – outreach, support, and advocacy – that it simply boggles the mind that they have become a punching bag for the right wing. In this interview, Jeff tells us the real mission of the organization, dispels with quite a lot of misinformation, and shares with us the dangers inherent in SJR127 – the legislation that would amend the Tennessee constitution and get us one step closer to banning abortion. This Thursday, April 23, is the PPMET Spring Luncheon, a benefit to support all the good work they do. More information is at plannedparenthood.org or call 615-345-0952. [27.7MB 24:11 download MP3]

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Part 5 – Interview with Chris Ford An environment legislative update from Chris Ford, Executive Director of Tennessee Conservation Voters and a quick update on some more legislation passing through the state legislature – HB 0335 by Rep. Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis) adds gender identity or expression as a sentencing enhancement factor to Tennessee’s hate crimes statute that currently includes sexual orientation. This bill will be heard on April 22 in the House Criminal Practice subcommittee. [11.1 MB 10:11 download MP3]

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