Memphis recently voted to shift its Title X money from Planned Parenthood to Christ Community Health Services. As you can imagine, from the name, it's a Christian organization. Okay, fine, Christians do good work in healthcare. No need to worry. It's not like they're going to take government money and proselytize to poor people.
Second, while we make no apologies for our faith in Jesus Christ (it's the reason we do what we do), we never force that faith on our patients. Any discussion about religious or philosophical issues is conducted respectfully and only after obtaining the permission of the patient.
Through surveys, we've found that a significant majority of our patients are interested in discussing faith as part of their health. To exclude such an important aspect of their lives is at best an oversight and at worst medical malpractice. Those who say that conversations touching on religion between doctors and patients are always improper are effectively trying to muzzle people of faith.
See, here's the deal. When you are a faith-based non-profit whose funding comes from individuals and churches, you can talk Christianity with your patients all you want. As long as everything's on the up-and-up and everyone knows what the deal is and people who aren't your particular brand of Christian have some place else to go to receive healthcare, more power to you.
But the second you are acting as a representative of the State, when you are THE place poor people can go to get state-funded healthcare, any pushing of Christianity you do on your patients isn't done just on behalf of your non-profit, but is done on behalf of the State. You are effectively saying that the State thinks people should discuss Christianity with their medical professionals.
If you can't see why this is a problem, imagine that the State had you go to a Muslim faith-based non-profit and your medical professionals asked you if they could talk to you about your relationship with Allah. Even if you said "No," would you not feel weird about this?
If Christians are being muzzled (and I honestly don't think that being asked to not proselytize at work counts as muzzling), it is in part for their own good. When the shoe is on the other foot, you won't feel like your religion is an issue when you encounter healthcare providers who have different beliefs than you.
Oh, but wait! Could the problem come from them already planning to not meet Title X requirements? Yes, Donlon says "we've stated publicly that we'll comply with the Title X regulations. It's no secret that we have profound moral and ethical objections to abortion, but we believe we can fulfill our contractual responsibilities without violating our consciences." But Focus on the Family is under a different impression: "Christ Community Health Services is a nondenominational group does not perform abortions or refer women to groups that do."
Title X states clearly that projects receiving Title X funding must provide factual, neutral information to pregnant women about pregnancy termination and referrals if wanted. It's in the guidelines twice, so it's pretty hard to miss (pdf).
How CCHS will both be able to inform women about the option of pregnancy termination and give them referrals to places where they can terminate their pregnancy if they desire AND not refer women to groups that do will be a rhetorical feat, I'm sure.
I'm almost tempted to put my money on "two months" and "refusing to follow Title X requirements."
But no, my money is on "mid-November" and the reason being "doesn't have enough staff to do what they promised the city they could do."
See, Steve Steffens over in Memphis got himself a copy of an email CCHS's executive director, Burt Waller, sent out last Thursday in which he said, "Daily, we have needy people intentionally sent to us by Planned Parenthood even though they are fully aware that we are not yet able to deliver the services."
They competed for funds for a program they don't have the staff to deliver. And yet, somehow Planned Parenthood is the bad guy for sending them patients — the very patients that they said they could serve.
It's like those pro-life women who get abortions at Planned Parenthood. Some people want to be able to heap abuse on Planned Parenthood, and run them into the ground, but by God, they want Planned Parenthood to be there providing the services they need.
Waller says they will be ready to begin the program in early November. Well, early November is next week. So, we'll see how that goes. Reading through the Title X requirements, it looks like you have to screen and clear all applicants before you offer them jobs, which I'm thinking is probably going to take longer than two weeks. If they aren't ready for Planned Parenthood's patients now, the situation's not going to be that different the first week of November.
Memphis is going to have a mess on their hands. David Fowler says, "At this point, we have no money going to Planned Parenthood, and we did it in a way where we’re not getting our pants sued off because we didn’t prohibit money from going to Planned Parenthood." But considering the issues already apparent, if I were Fowler, I would not be getting too attached to those pants yet.