Senate aims to vote on defunding Planned Parenthood
WASHINGTON – US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning a vote in coming days on Republican legislation halting federal funding for Planned Parenthood, following the release of secretly recorded videos about its role in supplying aborted fetal tissue for medical research.
“The leader is working with his members to address this horrific issue and intends to have a vote before we leave” for a five-week summer recess, said McConnell spokesman Michael Brumas.
Republican Senator Rand Paul has introduced legislation to prohibit any federal funds for Planned Parenthood, which provides screening, contraception services and abortions at clinics nationally.
It has come under scrutiny from the release of videos recorded by an anti-abortion group that says they show Planned Parenthood was involved in the illegal sale of aborted fetal material for research.
An attempt in the Senate to withhold government money from Planned Parenthood will need 60 votes in the 100-member chamber. There are 54 Republicans.
Planned Parenthood receives about $500 million annually in federal funding, Paul says. Federal money cannot be used for abortions.
Another video by the Center for Medical Progress group, the third in recent weeks and the most graphic, surfaced on Tuesday. It shows what appears to be a Planned Parenthood doctor in a clinic discussing the price of fetal tissue with an actor posing as a potential buyer.
Someone in the video pokes flesh-like material with tweezers in a glass and the undercover actor points out what he says are tiny intact kidneys that a medical assistant describes as worthy of “five stars.”
They discuss prices for fetal tissue.
“If we were doing like $50 to $75 per specimen, that’d be like $200 to $300 (total), and we’d be comfortable with that,” the actor says.
The woman identified as a doctor replies, “I think a per-item thing works a little better just because we can see how much we can get out of it.”
Federal law prohibits the trade of fetal tissue for profit but allows for donations for research or transplantation. Donors can receive “reasonable payments” for expenses such as transportation, processing and storage of the material.
Planned Parenthood denies any wrongdoing.
“When women wish to donate tissue for medical research, it is 100 percent ethical and legal to help them do so. In fact, every day, in all kinds of health care settings, patients choose to donate tissue for research,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America, an advocacy group for abortion rights. -Reuters