Image: falseStatement: A federal budget amendment proposed by Congressman Mike Pence, R-Ind., “eliminates funding for the domestic family planning program known as Title X,” Congressman Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., wrote to a constituent in February.

Determination: False

Analysis: In the heat of budget negotiations last week that nearly shut down the federal government, one of the major sticking points was a Republican-backed proposal to cut funding for family planning programs, such as Planned Parenthood, a major provider of abortion and other medical services across the country.

Though a supporter of abortion rights, Bilbray voted in favor of the proposal in February and received harsh criticism from his pro-choice constituents. Here’s an excerpt from one letter that Bilbray’s office sent to a frustrated constituent, explaining the vote:

Representative Mike Pence’s (R-IN) amendment to H.R.1 eliminates funding for the domestic family planning program known as Title X. Planned Parenthood receives its funding mostly from the Title X program for family planning services including abortion and counseling services. I voted in favor of this amendment when it passed in the house by a vote of 240 to 185 because it should not be the position of the federal government to fund abortions.

CityBeat reporter Dave Maass decided to look into the claims in the letter. Here’s an excerpt from Maass’ report Monday:

First, the Pence Amendment did not eliminate Title X funds. That was already part of the Republican budget plan. The Pence Amendment aimed to further undermine Planned Parenthood by barring any kind of federal money going to it or its local branches.

Second, Title X funds cannot be used for abortions anyway. Bilbray’s office has since backed off the claims.

“The letter is factually incorrect and we are taking steps to correct it,” Bilbray’s spokesperson Travis Considine tells CityBeat.

We contacted Considine and confirmed the retraction. Considine said Bilbray was thankful CityBeat brought the error to light so it could be addressed internally. While some Republicans say any money given to Planned Parenthood indirectly subsidizes abortions and so all funding channels to the organization should be eliminated, Considine said Bilbray doesn’t personally prescribe to that argument and its distribution by his office was a mistake.

Bilbray continues to support abortion rights, Considine said, and his vote on the budget amendment primarily reflected a push to cut federal spending rather than an ideological push to stop abortions from happening.

Following CityBeat’s reporting and Bilbray’s retraction, we’ve called the statement False since it incorrectly described the proposed amendment, which, by the way, didn’t make it into the government’s final budget resolved late Friday.

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