House Republican floats bill to protect Planned Parenthood

One of the few Republicans in Congress who supports abortion rights introduced a bill Wednesday to stop conservative state legislatures from halting the flow of federal public health funds to Planned Parenthood. 

Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) defended the group and its funding at a press conference, saying they enable underprivileged women to receive "basic, preventive, and in some cases, life-saving" care.

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Planned Parenthood has been under sustained attack from Republicans who say it should not receive public money for any preventive healthcare services because some of its clinics provide abortions.

Arizona became the latest state to take action against Planned Parenthood when Gov. Jan Brewer (R) last week signed a bill barring the group and other family-planning organizations from receiving state funds.

Seven other states have taken similar actions, or tried to, according to Dold, a freshman member.

These include Ohio, Kansas, Indiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, New Hampshire and Texas, where the decision to block funds has prompted a complicated court battle. 

On Friday, a U.S. appeals court ruled that funds can continue to flow to Planned Parenthood in Texas while the suit proceeds. 

Dold called the state decisions to pull funding "discrimination" against healthcare providers, but refused to criticize his party's position.

"Access to to care shouldn't be jeopardized simply due to discrimination … based on separate services that [providers] choose to offer," he said.

Dold's bill, the Protecting Women's Access to Health Care Act, would "prohibit discrimination" in the awarding of funds under Title X, a federal grant program for family-planning organizations that was signed into law by former President Nixon.

A release noted that groups like Planned Parenthood provide abortion services with "non-Title X dollars."

Federal law prohibits taxpayer money from funding abortions. 

— This story was updated at 12:41 p.m.