A moderate Republican from Pennsylvania believes he devised a “reasonable” solution to the debate over Planned Parenthood—one that both sides can agree with.
Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Penn., wants to temporarily withhold funding from the specific clinics allegedly involved in the procurement of tissue from aborted body parts, and permanently close a loophole that may be allowing doctors to lawfully alter the way they perform abortions.
“There are going to be some folks, let’s face it, on my side of the aisle who only support a complete defunding of Planned Parenthood,” Dent told The Daily Signal. “There will be some on the left who want to maintain the status quo, who don’t acknowledge that there might be a problem, but I think there are people in both parties who might see this as a reasonable way to proceed.”
Dent’s proposal was met with backlash from House conservatives, whose goal it is to strip the organization of all of its $500 million taxpayer dollars. Those conservatives also support reallocating that money to non-controversial health care clinics that provide women’s health care.
“While I respect Congressman Dent, his proposal falls short of what my colleagues in the Republican Study Committee and I believe Congress must do,” Rep. Bill Flores, Chairman of the conservative House caucus, told The Daily Signal.
We must end all federal funding for Planned Parenthood and reallocate those resources to comprehensive women’s health care centers that do not provide abortions. There are more than 13,500 comprehensive women’s health care clinics across the country, outnumbering Planned Parenthood’s offices by nearly 20 to one.
Dent is sure the defund movement “won’t go anywhere in the Senate,” and considers it to be a waste of time to try and put a one-year moratorium on the organization’s federal funding while Congress conducts its investigations. The House is planning to vote on that measure this week along with another bill to add criminal penalties for violations of the 2002 Born Alive Infants Protection Act.
>>> Read More: Congress Must Defund Planned Parenthood and Protect Life
His solution, “maybe has a chance at getting some support.”
“I’m just trying to be realistic and pragmatic,” Dent said. “I don’t want to see our party go and do a shutdown mode again and go and deal with the negative consequences of that action.”
The Republican Party is divided on how to best address the recent scandal, with conservatives willing to face a government shutdown over the issue and leadership going out of their way to avoid that prospect.
The debate over the taxpayer funding of the organization was triggered after a series of videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress were released, depicting Planned Parenthood employees discussing harvesting and trafficking organs from aborted babies and allegedly altering the abortion procedure in order to do so.
Dent believes his approach is “more targeted and measured” than the conservative strategy.
In addition to temporarily withholding funding from the seven Planned Parenthood clinics across three different states that participate in organ harvesting, Dent’s proposal includes a mandatory investigation into Planned Parenthood’s alleged wrongdoings by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
“The reason why we’re pushing this is because this is a much more targeted and measured way to deal with the problem—address the seven clinics where the issue may have occurred and then from there, let the investigations take their course,” he said.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., a member of the Republican Study Committee who has grown frustrated with what he considers a weak GOP response to the issue, called Dent’s effort “a joke.”
“This is another do-nothing-go-nowhere bill,” Huelskamp told The Daily Signal. “The only way to hold this vile, racist organization responsible is to cut off their taxpayer funding. It is a joke to expect Obama’s pro-abortion attorney general to do the job of Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell.”
Boehner has not specifically commented on Dent’s proposal. He has spoken out in favor of completely defunding Planned Parenthood, which would put him at odds partial defund approaches such as Dent’s.
— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) September 11, 2015
Dent is well aware of the demands from his conservative colleagues, but believes it’s a fair compromise. In addition to withholding funds from certain clinics and mandating a federal investigation, Dent wants to close what he calls a “loophole” in a 1993 law addressing the issue of doctors altering the abortion procedure when procuring tissue from the aborted baby.
In part, that 1993 law reads: “No alteration of the timing, method or procedure used to terminate the pregnancy was made solely for the purpose of obtaining the tissue.”
Dent would remove the word “solely,” which he believes allows Planned Parenthood to alter the abortion procedure with few, if any legal repercussions.
“Our change would help everyone conform with the true intent of the 1993 law was—that there should be no manipulation of the procedure for the purpose of harvesting fetal tissue,” Dent said.
The Pennsylvania lawmaker is hopeful he can even get some Democrats on board this “compromise,” but first might need to overcome the conservative hostility. Today, he plans on introducing the legislation.
Throughout the debate, Planned Parenthood has denied any wrongdoing, and says the videos were highly edited and manipulated to depict their practices in the worst way.
This story was updated to include information on this week’s House votes and Boehner’s position on defunding Planned Parenthood.