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State Sues Federal Government For Taking Millions Out Of Its Pocket, Giving It To Planned Parenthood

Republican Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti of Tennessee filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tuesday for giving the state’s $30 million Title X grant to Planned Parenthood, according to the court documents.

The department required that states offer abortion referrals at pregnancy clinics that receive federal funding in 2021, but Tennessee informed HHS that the clinics would only provide referrals for “legal abortions” within the state’s abortion laws following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in 2022, according to the lawsuit. HHS initially approved the state’s funding but reportedly changed its tune and in September gave Tennessee’s Title X grant to Planned Parenthood, prompting the lawsuit.

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

The state’s abortion law went into effect in 2022 and bans most abortions with limited exceptions to protect the life and health of the mother or if the child would likely not survive the entire pregnancy. The state requires that no clinic refer patients out of state or for abortion services that do not fall within the law, but the lawsuit argues that HHS is attempting to force state clinics to expand their abortion referrals in spite of this.

As a result of the department’s decision, Tennessee would lose around $30 million in federal funding over the next five years despite HHS saying in its initial approval recommendation that the state was “‘only agency’ equipped to administer Title X ‘without a gap in services in the state,’” according to the lawsuit. The state learned in September that HHS decided to send the funding to Planned Parenthood.

“HHS’s actions make clear that it has no intention of meaningfully considering Tennessee’s appeal or preserving HHS and Tennessee’s fifty-year Title X partnership,” the lawsuit reads. “Rather, HHS apparently values sending a pro-abortion message more than providing vital family planning services to thousands of vulnerable women and families across Tennessee.”

Tennessee is asking the court to declare HHS’ decision as “unlawful and arbitrary and capricious” and restore the funding to the state while allowing it to continue “refusing to offer counseling and referrals (including out-of-state) for abortions that are otherwise illegal under Tennessee law,” according to the lawsuit.

The AG’s office and HHS did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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