WASHINGTON – Republican-led efforts to defund Planned Parenthood over its abortion services are complicated by an awkward fact: The bill's chief sponsor admits that Title X funding provides "important" aid to poor women and children.
Yet Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) pushed through a measure in the House to cut off all $317 million in Title X funding to Planned Parenthood and all abortion providers, even though the money by law must be used on services other than abortion. Supporters argue that money is fungible, and therefore any federal funds for such groups are effectively abetting abortion care.
"I've never advocated reducing funding for Title X," Pence said Monday in a radio interview with WYPR. "Title X clinics do important work in our inner cities. They provide health services for women and children that might not otherwise have access to them."
Symbolism aside, what all but seven House Republicans (and 11 Democrats) voted to do was deny health care services to those women and children who Pence admits are benefiting from Title X funding, in a way that has nothing to do with abortion.
Asked about the impact of the 240-185 vote last month, Pence's spokesman Matt Lloyd told Raw Story, "The congressman's efforts legislatively have been focused on eliminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood, not Title X."
It's ultimately a dilemma that pits two options against each other: Make a symbolic point about the immorality of taxpayer funds for abortion, or preserve actual health services to mostly poor women who are most in need of assistance.
Pence's measure isn't expected to be taken up by the Democratic-led Senate.