The Shelby County Commission voted 9-4 today in favor of giving a contract to local nonprofit Christ Community Health Services to provide family-planning services to poor people.Apparently CCHS will now refer a patient to "a third party" for emergency contraception. They are objecting to have to do so on "religious grounds". No word on who that third party will be. Also, CCHS will not refer or discuss abortion with clients, even though it is mandated as part of getting Title X money to provide objective and neutral information on ALL available options and to give a referral if requested.
Voting in favor of the Christ Community contract were newly sworn in commissioner Brent Taylor as well as James Harvey, Terry Roland, Mike Ritz, Chris Thomas, Justin Ford, Steve Mulroy, Heidi Shafer and Wyatt Bunker.
Voting against were Henri E. Brooks, Melvin Burgess, Walter Bailey and Sidney Chism.
Bailey had previously said that he would support Christ Community but voted against the contract. He said he was upset that the organization had said in a proposal that it would provide emergency contraception and now says it will provide that via a third party.
“What gives me grave concern is that Christ Community is not prepared by religious scruples where now religion is being pulled into the picture . . . being pulled into a position where they can’t provide emergency contraception,” Bailey said. “Emergency contraception was a key component of the (request for proposals.)”
Supporters of Planned Parenthood handed out pink T-shirts to supporters who came to the meeting, and they filled several rows in the auditorium today.THIS IS NOT OK. People should NOT be subjected to being a captive audience in order to get the necessary, needed medical care they deserve. People deserve to be treated with dignity and being forced to hear moralistic lessons from a particular religion in order to get health care is NOT doing so.
One of those was 24-year-old Mary Phillips, who said she’d gone to both Christ Community and Planned Parenthood — she held up a peach-colored plastic box that held birth control pills that she’d received from Planned Parenthood. She said Christ Community provides high-quality medical services, but that they sometimes come with a “sermon.”
She said that she had once been told: “If only my relationships with people and God were right, I would have fewer health problems.”
Dr. Rick Donlon, a founding physician at Christ Community, said in September that staffers will not direct patients to abortion clinics or make formal referrals to providers who terminate pregnancies.But not enough to provide those people with the health care they want and need.
Commissioner Bailey pressed Christ Community CEO Burt Waller and Leatherwood, the group’s administrator, to explain those comments.
She said the organization already counsels patients with positive pregnancy tests about options such as adoption and abortion. She said that if a woman chooses an abortion, the clinic staff urge them to come back for care.
“We love on those individuals,” she said. “We do not judge those individuals.”
CCHS is not going to provide all the health care services, or even information & referral, that they are supposed to do. The low income, un/under-insured of Shelby County are not being served by this, they are being harmed. Their rights and their dignity are being undermined by the Commission who is forcing them to be a captive audience to a religious organization. This is completely and utterly unacceptable.
[Related: Shelby County Undecided on Forcing Poor to Religious Organization For Care, Want Some Jesus With Your Birth Control?]