U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (R-10) went against party lines Wednesday and introduced a bill
that would prohibit lawmakers from barring Planned Parenthood -- and
other clinics that perform abortions -- from receiving federal Title X dollars that go toward family planning and contraceptive services.
The first-term Republican’s bill, H.R. 5650, or the Protecting Women’s Access to Health Care Act, gained approval from Planned Parenthood, but some of Dold’s critics, including his Democrat opponent in November’s general election, Brad Schneider, aren’t convinced he’s a true advocate for women’s reproductive freedom.
Schneider of Deerfield called
Dold’s voting record on women’s issues “disturbing” in a written
statement Thursday to Progress Illinois.
"Taken as a whole, Congressman Dold's record on issues important to women is disappointing,” Schneider wrote.
Schneider added Dold’s bill contradicts his “yes” vote for the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 that would have reinstated the Washington, D.C. abortion ban, eliminated the Title X program and defunded Planned Parenthood, among other stipulations.
The bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the measure was not enacted.
The Title X program provides federal money to clinics and other service providers that offer comprehensive family-planning access to low-income families. The program reaches more than five million men and women.
By law, the money is not to be used for abortions. Instead, money can be used for contraception, STD and HIV testing and breast and cervical cancer screenings, among other things.
Without these services, unintended pregnancy and abortion in the United States would be one-third higher, according to Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
Schneider said he believes Dold introduced the bill as an election maneuver to appease the 10th Congressional District’s Democratic voters.
“Now, with fewer than 200 days until the election, Congressman Dold is trying to sweep his voting record under the rug,” he said. “But women’s health and safety are simply too important to imperil with partisan politics.”
Haley Morris, Midwest regional press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, also said Dold’s past votes contradict his most recent bill, which she considers an “attempt to paper-over his record.”
“Congressman Robert Dold has consistently sacrificed women’s health to push an extreme ideological agenda in line with the Tea Party and out of touch with Illinois families,” Morris said.
“You can’t hide his votes.”
Morris highlighted Dold’s “yes” vote for H.R. 358, or the “Protect Life Act,” which passed in the House in October of 2011.
The act, which opponents called the “Let Women Die” bill, would have allowed federally-funded hospitals to refuse to perform abortions if they do not agree with the procedure -- even if a woman could die without the procedure.
Lara Phillips, director of communications and marketing for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said Planned Parenthood of Illinois “strongly supports” Dold’s bill.
Women deserve access to basic preventative reproductive health care such as cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment and birth control regardless of their ability to pay for it, she added.
“This act would ensure that qualified health centers that treat low-income women cannot be denied federal Title X funds on the basis that they provide abortion services with non-Title X funds, as required by law,” Phillips said.
Dold’s campaign did not respond to Progress Illinois’ request for comment.