When it comes to supporting continued federal funding of Planned Parenthood, we wholeheartedly agree with fellow Republican and Maine’s senior U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who said Sunday in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” that “it makes absolutely no sense to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. … Planned Parenthood is an important provider of health care services, including family planning and cancer screenings for millions of Americans, particularly women.”

First, as Republicans, we want to point out that our party has a long history of supporting reproductive and family planning services. In 1970, Republican President Richard Nixon signed into law the Title X Family Planning Program amendment to the Public Health Services Act, providing access to family planning for low-income women. Before he became the 41st president, George H.W. Bush was a Republican congressman from Texas who championed family planning funding, and former Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe has been a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood.

Second, it is important to understand what “defunding” means. The federal funding in jeopardy comes to Planned Parenthood in the form of Medicaid reimbursements for providing health care to 2.5 million women and men across the nation seen at Planned Parenthood health centers. In Maine, 25 percent of the 10,000 patients Planned Parenthood sees each year are insured by Medicaid. Patients come to Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, well-woman exams, birth control and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

To date this year, more than 1 million people in the U.S. have relied on Planned Parenthood for health care.

It is also important to note what federal funding of Planned Parenthood does not cover, and that is abortion. Abortion services – and the politics surrounding abortion – have no place in this debate, because according to federal law, federal funds cannot be used for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or if the life or health of the mother is in danger.

Furthermore, Planned Parenthood is often the only affordable health care available to many of its patients. Fifty-four percent of Planned Parenthood health centers across the U.S. are in medically underserved areas, rural and urban alike. Three of the four Maine Planned Parenthood health centers are in such areas.

Last year, Maine’s four Planned Parenthood health centers provided $3.5 million in free or discounted care to Maine patients.

Without Planned Parenthood, many patients have nowhere else to go for the basic care they need. This can have serious, negative health and fiscal effects on states. After Kansas defunded Planned Parenthood in 2014, the number of people accessing birth control, cancer screenings and other care fell by more than 14,000. The same impact is expected in Iowa, which last month terminated Medicaid reimbursements for Planned Parenthood, forcing the closure of four of 12 Planned Parenthood health centers in the state.

Patients will either go without care, receive costlier services in emergency rooms or seek care later when their health issues worsen and are more expensive and difficult to treat.

When Planned Parenthood health centers are shuttered, fewer women receive family planning services, yet we know that access to family planning services reduces the number of unintended pregnancies. Without Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that unintended pregnancies in the U.S. would have been 15 percent higher in 2015.

We stand behind Sen. Collins’ continued commitment to preserving federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Like her, we believe it would be a mistake to defund such an important organization that for more than 100 years has been a reliable, trusted health care and family planning provider, especially for lower-income men and women in medically underserved areas. Planned Parenthood’s services are vital to Maine’s – and our nation’s – health care infrastructure and people. We urge Sen. Collins to oppose any bill that would reduce funding for Planned Parenthood.