WASHINGTON – A new Republican bill defunding the health and abortion services group Planned Parenthood would also cut millions of dollars in funding for contraceptives, reproductive health counseling and cancer screenings.
The measure would eliminate all $327 million in funding for Title X, a family planning program that began 40 years ago under President Richard Nixon. And while Planned Parenthood receives millions of dollars from the program, Title X funds cannot be used for abortion services.
The money is to be used for noncontroversial family planning services, mostly for low-income families.
"Unbelievably, the House Leadership has set its sights on abolishing a program that provides lifesaving and preventive care to millions of women and saves taxpayers money by helping women plan their families," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.
"This is an extreme proposal, and the new leaders of the House are pushing it forward at great risk to women and at their own political peril."
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), framed it as an effort to deny government funding for abortions.
"The time has come to deny all federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America," Pence said. "I've authored the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which would deny Title X funds to Planned Parenthood or any other abortion provider and Congress must act and act now to move this important legislation."
Jodi Jacobson, editor-in-chief of the reproductive health news site RH Reality Check, reports that "Title X provides millions of women across the country with access to basic primary and preventive care, such as lifesaving cancer screenings, contraception, STI testing and treatment, and annual exams."
The pro-abortion-rights group NARAL said the legislation would lead to more unwanted pregnancies by cutting funding for contraceptives.
"The new anti-choice House leadership now wants to take away birth control and cancer screenings from millions of American women and men," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL. "While these politicians attack abortion coverage from every angle, they now want to deny funding for birth control, even though that’s the best way to prevent unintended pregnancy. Americans will not stand for this blatant hypocrisy."