A Republican congressman has repudiated the party line by introducing a bill aimed at protecting Planned Parenthood funding.
"As a pro-choice Republican, I believe that this legislation is critical because it ensures nondiscrimination within the federal Title X family planning program," said Dold in a statement accompanying the bill. "We have seen several attempts to block funds and exclude health care providers from participating in the Title X program simply because they separately offer services beyond the scope of Title X. We should not discriminate against hospitals and organizations that provide access to basic, preventative, and in some cases life-saving services for so many underprivileged women through Title X."
"This is something I've being dealing with since I got here, I was the only Republican to stand up and speak out against defunding Planned Parenthood," Dold told Politico. "This is Title X funding, and I want to make sure we are preserving access to health care for women."
"I want to focus on what I can do to find common ground, certainly this is an issue I've been pretty vocal about. I'm sure there will be those that don't like it, but I'm sure there will be those that do," he said, citing the fact that Title X provides medical care to around five million low-income Americans each year.
Indeed, Rep. Dold's bold defense of Planned Parenthood has drawn sharp criticism from other Republicans who want to reduce or eliminate funding for the women's health organization because they object to the fact that some of its clinics provide abortion services.
"I wonder how many Republican co-sponsors he'll get," Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who has launched an investigation of Planned Parenthood, told Politico. "I don't understand why a bill is needed -- there's no discrimination against Planned Parenthood. We're getting financial records, the cases that we've seen where they've committed Medicaid fraud, we need to know why this is occurring and why they are getting government money."
Mitt Romney, the presumed GOP presidential nominee, has said he would defund Planned Parenthood if elected.
"Look," Romney told Scott Hennen on his radio show in February, "the idea that we're subsidizing an institution which is providing abortion, in my view, is wrong. Planned Parenthood ought to stand on their own feet, and should not get government subsidy."
"I'm a pro-life candidate," the former Massachusetts governor continued. "I simply do not want to participate in anything that takes away the life of an unborn child."
But under the Hyde Amendment, abortions cannot be covered in comprehensive health care services provided by the federal government.
Planned Parenthood hailed Rep. Dold's measure.
"Planned Parenthood of Illinois strongly supports the Protecting Women's Access to Health Care Act introduced by Representative Bob Dold," Carole Brite, president of Planned Parenthood Illinois, said in a statement on Wednesday. "Women deserve access to basic preventive reproductive health care such as lifesaving cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and birth control regardless of their ability to pay for it. This act would ensure that qualified health centers that treat low-income women cannot be denied federal Title X funds on the basis that they provide abortion services with non-Title X funds as required by law."
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