On Wednesday Freshman GOP Rep. Bob Dold (Ill) did something unheard of in contemporary politics: he introduced a bill to protect Planned Parenthood from efforts to defund the health care provider.
As Laura Bassett reports, H.R. 5650, the Protecting Women’s Access to Health Care Act prevents lawmakers from blocking Title X family planning funds to Planned Parenthood because some clinics provide abortion services. So far eight state legislatures have voted to defund Planned Parenthood for so-called “taxpayer-funded abortions.” This is despite the fact that the Hyde Amendment prevents the government from using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions.
But Republicans argue that awarding Title X or Medicaid dollars to Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, STD testing and birth control frees up other money that it will use for abortion services. Interestingly they don’t make this same argument when awarding federal dollars to religious organizations who provide social charity work yet do not want to abide by civil rights laws, such as Catholic-affiliated entities.
The proposed legislation specifically provides that when it comes to participation in the Title X program, health care providers, including Planned Parenthood, cannot be discriminated against and excluded in receiving those dollars simply because they choose to offer additional services separate and distinct from Title X.
Dold’s larger goal is to “bring both sides together” in support of Planned Parenthood and to education people about the importance of the Title X program. Unfortunately it’s clear his party has no interest in hearing about the more than five million low income Americans served by Title X. Mitt Romney has already pledged to “get rid of” the provider while Republicans at both the federal and state level continue to single out the provider for attack.
And these are all the more reasons to support Rep. Dold’s efforts, regardless of party affiliation. This is sensible and unfortunately necessary legislation and it is astonishing to see a Republican introduce such a bill in today’s anti-science, anti-woman party of the right. Let’s hope this signals a resistance from within the party to the anti-woman, anti-science platform of the GOP.
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