Despite a mass shooting at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood last week, Senate Republicans stepped up efforts to dismantle the reproductive healthcare provider by pushing forward a bill yesterday to defund the organization.
Using a legislative tactic called reconciliation, which enables lawmakers to advance budget-related measures with only 51 votes instead of the usual 60, the Senate voted 52 to 47 to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood and repeal key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
The legislation must now go to the House, which passed a different version of the bill in October. The White House has already announced that President Obama will veto the measure should it reach his desk, and supporters of the legislation do not have the necessary two-thirds House and Senate majorities to override the President’s veto.
Congress’ most recent maneuver marks another in a series of legislative attacks against Planned Parenthood; they’ve come in the wake of the release of several fraudulent and surreptitiously recorded videos that falsely accuse Planned Parenthood of profiting off the sale of fetal tissue. The videos, manufactured and distributed by anti-abortion group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), have been debunked repeatedly.
Nonetheless, in September, House Republicans called Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on her organization’s conduct and practices. Though the committee found no fault in Planned Parenthood’s actions, just one month later, House Republicans announced the formation of a select committee—this time under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee—with the intent of investigating and defunding Planned Parenthood through budget reconciliation. To date, federal and state-level investigations have turned up zero evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood clinics and independent women’s healthcare facilities nationwide have experienced an increase in anti-abortion violence and severe threats since the release of the CMP videos.
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said, “It is outrageous that politicians in Congress continue to attack Planned Parenthood and take away vital funding for women’s healthcare on the excuse of false accusations leveled by anti-abortion extremists.”
Media Resources: Quartz 12/3/15; Feminist Newswire 9/1/15; Media Matters 8/24/15