NPR reports today on Republican efforts to gut funding to Title X family planning clinics, which “serve 15 percent of women in the United States who obtain contraceptive prescriptions or supplies, or who receive an annual checkup for birth control.” In February, all but three Republican representatives voted for a budget proposal that completely nixed Title X funding, after approving an amendment that also strips Planned Parenthood of all federal funds. As NPR reports, Rep. Mike Pence, the sponsor of the Planned Parenthood amendment, actually thinks that Title X funding is a good thing….but is willing to use it as a bargaining chip to achieve his ultimate goal of decimating Planned Parenthood:
Supporters of defunding have characterized it as an effort to strip funds from Planned Parenthood and other organizations that use other funds to provide legal abortions, without singling out any particular group. The House in February voted 240-185 to defund Title X in the current budget year.
But even staunch anti-abortion legislators like Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican who has crusaded against federal funding for Planned Parenthood clinics, say that jettisoning the Title X program may be going too far.
"I’ve never advocated reducing funding for Title X," Pence said during a recent radio interview with the chairman of a county Right to Life organization in his home state.
"Title X clinics do important work in our inner cities," Pence said. "They provide health services for women and children that might not otherwise have access to them."
So, why have Republican House members set their sights on the $327 million that would fund the program this year?
The answer, largely, is Planned Parenthood and politics.
Social conservatives have pressed House Republicans to make cutting off federal funds to Planned Parenthood a priority; but they see room for negotiation over Title X funds.
The Right’s obsession with bringing down Planned Parenthood is destructive enough…that people like Pence are willing to put millions of women at risk to achieve it shows just how blind an obsession it is.