Memphis City Hall (Photo: City of Memphis Community Affairs page, Facebook)
The Shelby County Commission awarded $25,000 to a nonprofit reproductive healthcare facility, despite controversy over the facility providing abortions for low-income women.
CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive Health was founded in 1974 and offers a full range of reproductive services for women and the LGBTQ community. Along with providing Pap smears, birth control, breast exams, fertility assistance, a birthing center and assistance with adoption, CHOICES also provides abortions, for which the organization has caught the ire of the anti-abortion community over for decades.
“We are the only truly comprehensive, reproductive health center in the nation that offers birth, prenatal care, wellness and abortion services under one roof, and we are proud to make Memphis the home of this ground-breaking model,” said Jennifer Pepper, CHOICES executive director.
Last week, commissioners were presented a resolution to award CHOICES with $25,000 in order to build a playground. In their application, CHOICES mentioned that most of their clients were parents and needed somewhere to leave their children while they sought service.
Protestors voiced their opposition to using county funds to a facility that provided abortions, and commissioners voted not to recommend the resolution’s passage.
On Monday, both advocates and protestors lined up to speak on the resolution before commissioners made their final vote. Due to the sheer amount, speakers were limited to 1-minutes each to make their case.
Although the funds would be used for a playground, protestors were largely opposed to using tax dollars for a facility that provides abortions. Many cited their religious beliefs.
One women described her negative experience receiving an abortion at CHOICES, while another women praised CHOICES for treating women with dignity.
Memphis City Council member Dr. Jeff Warren, a physician, spoke in support of the resolution while praising CHOICES’s birthing center, which offers natural and low-intervention childbirths overseen by midwives and licensed nurse practitioners.
“Our prenatal death rates among African-American women and infants is way too high,” said Warren. “CHOICES midwives are bringing this high touch, follow-up to prenatal care, delivery and postnatal care with excellent results. A playground for moms to bring their other children to play will help improve follow-up of those pregnancies in medical care for their moms.”
Commissioners voted 8-5 in favor of the resolution. Commissioners Amber Mills, Mick Wright, Mark Billingsley, David Bradford and Brandon Morrison voted to oppose.
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