Planned Parenthood just survived the most recent attempt at its defunding in the U.S. Senate, with Colorado’s Michael Bennet joining other Democrats to block a bill supported by Cory Gardner and the GOP in a procedural vote late Monday. Republican presidential hopefuls Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz co-sponsored the legislation that failed to garner the 60 votes that would have made it filibuster-proof on the upper chamber floor.
In a 53-46 vote, two antiabortion Democrats, and one pro-abortion rights Republican facing a tough election in Illinois defected from party ranks. Another nay was cast by Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell so he could preserve the option of bringing it up again in September. Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the 17 candidates in the Republican primary, was absent for the vote.
The House has already punted the issue until after its summer recess, and President Obama said he would veto any legislation that strips the nonprofit of its more than $500 million in annual funding. This most recent effort to deflate Planned Parenthood was sparked by a series of videos released by the Center For Medical Progress — a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization that bills itself as “a group of citizen journalists … concerned about contemporary bioethical issues that impact human dignity” that’s led by a handful of longtime anti-abortion operatives.
These videos have caused outcry among antiabortion conservatives across the country, including here in Colorado where Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains was targeted by the undercover activists. The conversation at a clinic in Denver between medical director Dr. Sativa Ginde and actors posing as representatives from the fake “Biomax” features some graphic shop-talk about certain aspects of abortion that many would prefer not to think about — particularly how much it costs to procure tissue from an aborted fetus for use in stem cell research.
Claims that the videos show Planned Parenthood illegally profiting off of the commercial sale of “aborted babies’ body parts” underlie the current movement to defund the health care provider, though in raw footage from the encounter released late Friday, Dr. Ginde and her colleagues never make — or agree to make — any transaction that involves selling fetal tissue to pad the organization’s bottom line.
“Although it is essential to discontinue any funds to any organization that devalues life, we all know that defunding is not enough and it is not our goal” said Vice President of Colorado Right to Life Suthan Sutherland in a statement about the vote. “WE MUST ABOLISH BABY KILLING THROUGHOUT THE LAND NOW!”
Cathy Alderman, Vice President of Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado, blasted Senator Cory Gardner for his “yea” vote for defunding Planned Parenthood. “He says he wants increased access with over-the-counter (and more expensive) birth control pills, but his vote to defund Planned Parenthood clearly states he truly wants to deny access to needed family planning services,” she said in a statement. “Senator Gardner’s hypocrisy is showing.”
Photo credit: scythrill, Creative Commons, Flickr.