Almost as odd as an American President endorsing the right of same-sex couples to marry today, was the sight of a Republican member of Congress holding a press conference to announce legislation to guarantee funding of Planned Parenthood. But that happened today as well.
Rep. Robert Dold, who represents the liberal suburbs of Chicago, on Wednesday unveiled the “Protecting Women’s Access to Health Care Act” outside the Capitol, which would forbid agencies and governments from denying Title X funds to a qualified organization.
“As a pro-choice Republican, I believe that this legislation is critical because it ensures nondiscrimination within the federal Title X family planning program,” Dold told reporters, standing alongside a Planned Parenthood official and the leader of a pro-choice Republican group.
The move follows a sustained GOP assault on Planned Parenthood over the fact that it performs abortions. House Republicans last year voted to deny the women’s health provider family planning funds, even though the funds are strictly to be used for non-abortion services — like breast exams and mammograms — that constitute most of Planned Parenthood’s work.
As always, there’s a backstory here. Democrats gerrymandered Illinois to within an inch of its life, and Dold faces Brad Schneider for his re-election in what amounts to a blue seat. (This was the district where Ilya Sheyman lost the primary to Schneider.) So he has to do something to moderate his views and save his skin in November.
Still, this is pretty out of character. Over the past several months, you simply have not seen anyone in the Republican Party willing to defend Planned Parenthood. In fact, they’ve all been champing at the bit to defund it. But Dold has actually been consistent on this issue. He opposed the amendment to defund Planned Parenthood back in March, the only Republican to speak out against it.
I don’t know that this saves Dold in November, but it’s certainly rare in this partisan age to see anyone willing to take on their own party on a matter like this. And I’m sure Planned Parenthood welcomes the support.