MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - If you want state money, do not provide abortions; that's the message from Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. His reaction comes after Planned Parenthood branches in Tennessee filed a lawsuit against the state for cutting funds for HIV and syphilis testing.
Governor Haslam wouldn't say if the cuts were driven by politics. He claims the state is simply moving money to other health care providers, and firmly stands behind state cuts to Planned Parenthood.
“I did say that and obviously the state took that but that was part of what I said when I was running for governor," he said.
More than $150,000 in state money was cut from Planned Parenthood in Davidson and Shelby Counties. The non-profits filed an injunction to get those funds back.
"They never gave a reason, they have no reason. It was politically motivated,” said Barry Chase, CEO for Planned Parenthood in Memphis.
Governor Haslam wouldn't comment about the lawsuit but did say that Planned Parenthood is not the only provider of HIV and STD testing.
"Our feelings end up being that there's really 93 counties that were providing that themselves, only Davidson and Shelby weren't doing that,” the governor told abc24.com.
The governor stresses that money is still going to organizations that will provide good medical services.
"It's not that there's no funding. The state is redirecting their funding to other providers through the county health departments."
A spokeswoman from the state health department will not comment about the lawsuit until it's resolved in court.