SCOTT BROWN WAS FOR THE CUTS BEFORE HE WAS AGAINST THEM…. A couple of weeks ago, Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) broke with their party’s crusade against family planning funds. Murkowski announced her support for Planned Parenthood, while Collins said she’s against the House GOP effort to defund Title X, which is dedicated to reproductive health issues.

This week, they were joined by another relative moderate.

US Senator Scott Brown opposes a House Republican plan to cut all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the women’s health service provider, and today urged budget negotiators to reach a compromise.

“I support family planning and health services for women,” Brown, a Bay State Republican, said in a statement. “Given our severe budget problems, I don’t believe any area of the budget is completely immune from cuts. However, the proposal to eliminate all funding for family planning goes too far. As we continue with our budget negotiations, I hope we can find a compromise that is reasonable and appropriate.”

It’s welcome news, to be sure. Ben Smith noted that moderate GOP support for Planned Parenthood funding makes it look “increasingly less likely” that House Republicans will get their wish, which sounds right to me.

Indeed, the whole right-wing crusade is ridiculous. Planned Parenthood is already prohibited from using federal funds to pay for abortion services; all the House GOP is doing is cutting funding for family planning and women’s health services, including cancer screenings. It’s cruel and unnecessary.

In light of all of this, I’m inclined to give Brown, Murkowski, and Collins credit for being right about the issue. That said, it’s worth emphasizing that the House GOP spending bill — the one including brutal domestic spending cuts — eliminated every penny of federal funding for Title X and Planned Parenthood.

And who voted in support of the House Republican proposal when it reached the Senate floor? Brown, Murkowski, and Collins did.

Given the extremist tilt of the Republican Party, I’m genuinely pleased that these relative moderates are on the correct side of this debate. But the political world shouldn’t have short memories — it was less than two weeks ago that the Senate considered a House package that would deny family planning and contraception to Americans who need the aid. Scott Brown knew the legislation would fail, and knew the GOP cuts went “too far,” but he voted for it anyway, basically because his party told him to.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.