(CNSNews.com) – A pro-abortion Republican is seeking to protect some of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding by offering a bill that says health care providers cannot be disqualified from receiving federal family planning grants “simply because they choose to offer additional services."
Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.), currently serving his first term in Congress, held a press conference on Wednesday to introduce the “Protecting Women’s Access to Health Care Act,” a bill that would shield abortion providers from attempts to strip the federal funding they receive through the Title X family planning program.
Although the law prevents Title X family planning funds from being used for abortions, money is fungible and, as the latest data show, Planned Parenthood received a reported $79 million in Title X funding in 2010, and a total of approximately $342 million between 2002 and 2008.
“As a pro-choice Republican, I believe that this legislation is critical because it ensures non-discrimination within [the] federal Title X family planning program,” Dold said while standing alongside Darlee Crockett, national co-chair of Republicans for Planned Parenthood.
“Specifically, this legislation says that when it comes to participation in Title X, the Title X program, health care providers such as hospitals, health care clinics, including Planned Parenthood, cannot be discriminated against and excluded simply because they choose to offer additional services, separate from Title X,” he said.
Dold would not say if those additional services include abortions in an interview with CNSNews.com, and only stressed that funds channeled through the Title X program are restricted from going towards abortion.
“Title X specifically prevents using those funds for abortions, so this is, we’re trying to make sure that we have access to some of the critical care that not only hospitals but places like Planned Parenthood also provide, cancer screenings, HIV testing, some of these other things that I think are absolutely important,” he told CNSNews.com after the press conference.
“And like we said, 70 percent of those folks coming in here are at or below the poverty level,” Dold added. “So this is something that I think is needed and certainly we’re talking about long standing of about 40 years, this is not something that is new -- we just want to make sure that we’re protecting Title X funding.”
When asked if there is a conflict with Planned Parenthood receiving federal funding because the organization provides abortions, Dold said, “Again, I want to make sure we’re focusing on what the Title X funding is going for.”
“The Title X funding should be going for breast cancer, cancer screenings, wellness tests, those types of things, other services,” he said.
Last year, Dold voted against an amendment written by his colleague Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) that would have ended Planned Parenthood’s Title X funding. The measure passed 240-185, but it was stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Title X of the Public Health Service Act, enacted in 1970, is a federal grant program that offers family planning services, such as contraception, and patient education and counseling for low-income individuals. Planned Parenthood is the largest recipient of Title X funding and also the largest abortion provider in the United States.
“While the law states that federal funds may not be used directly for abortions, there is no question that the taxpayer dollars Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers receive under Title X are used to cover allowed expenses, such as overhead and operational costs, thus freeing up other money to promote and provide abortions,” said Pence last year. The Indiana congressman also said Planned Parenthood received more than $342 million in federal funding through Title X alone between 2002 and 2008.
CNSNews.com asked Dold why promoting the avoidance of pregnancy, through family planning services, is a public policy priority.
“What I’m focusing on here today is talking about what we can be doing to make sure we’re protecting women’s access to health care, preventative services that are out there, and making sure that they’ve got these access in terms of cancer screenings, or HIV testing, or those types of things, which I think is important,” he said. “And I think most people would agree that those are some important things that we need to make sure that we’re providing.”
CNSNews.com further asked, “But Title X is specifically for family planning, so that’s, obviously you think it’s important for the government to be pushing family planning. So why is that?”
“I think it’s important that we have access -- women have access -- to health care,” Dold said. “I think that’s something that we have had for a number of years. It’s been a longstanding tradition in terms of Title X Family Planning services, something that I support and will continue to do so.”