Empowered by Republican gains and the recent selection of Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) to Chair the Subcommittee on Health, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence is again speaking about ending what he calls “taxpayer funding of abortion.” Pence is the sponsor of the “Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act,” which would cut-off federal finances to health services groups such as Planned Parenthood. However, the title of Pence’s bill is deceiving, as under current law “Title X funds may not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” As a result, there is no taxpayer funding of abortion either under Title X or the new health care reform law, another baseless charge frequently used by the right wing activists.
Under Pence’s bill, the government will stop giving taxpayer dollars to organizations which perform abortions or contribute to groups which perform abortions, even though abortion coverage is already banned from using federal dollars. As The Nation points out, Planned Parenthood is one of the largest and most well-known groups working in the extensive field of reproductive and sexual healthcare, and would incur most of the damage from this bill: “The aim is to defund Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest network of clinics for family planning and women’s health, and in many regions the only provider within reach.”
Now Pence, the winner of the Values Voter Summit 2010 presidential straw poll, believes that cutting funds to reproductive healthcare organizations is not just necessary to constrain a woman’s access to healthcare but also to address unemployment. Pence told the anti-choice news service LifeNews:
With a nearly 10 percent unemployment rate, there is simply no reason during these tough economic times why taxpayers’ hard-earned money should fund the activities of abortion providers and equip them with the resources they need to end innocent human life.
The time has come to deny any and all federal funding to Planned Parenthood by passing the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which I intend to introduce again in the next Congress.”
Michele Bachmann has also embraced Pence’s bill, and the bill’s 103 co-sponsors include Speaker-designate John Boehner, incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Pitts, who plans to push anti-choice legislation through his Subcommittee on Health. Pence isn’t the first leader on the Right who suggested that anti-choice bills address economic problems like unemployment, as Jim Garlow, the Chairman of Newt Gingrich’s Renewing American Leadership, recently claimed that abortion is responsible for high unemployment: