Videos from an anti-abortion activist group targeting Planned Parenthood have reached the attention Republican presidential candidate and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has taken a stand against both the nonprofit women's health organization and abortion. He has called for the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood.
Paul's campaign released an ad on YouTube targeting Planned Parenthood on Thursday. The advertisement contended that Planned Parenthood was "funded by taxpayers" and "sells baby body parts" in addition to performing abortions.
"Rand Paul is taking action," a female narrator says in the spot. "As a pro-life doctor, Rand Paul cared for premature babies to save their sight. As a conservative leader, Rand is forcing the vote this week to end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood."
Paul elaborated on his views on Planned Parenthood and abortion to Wolf Blitzer of CNN.
"I think a lot of people are disturbed that (ultrasound) technology is actually being used, maybe illegally, to try and harvest organs," Paul said. "As far as what Planned Parenthood does other than abortion, everything else they do is done by community health centers also."
According to CNN, the topic of Planned Parenthood has lit up the base of the Republican Party, and Paul hoped to grab some momentum from that outrage. David Brody of CBN News pointed out that Paul "has been a pro-life leader for decades."
"Probably my very first public speech I spoke out against abortion," Paul said. "I gave a speech in my church when I was 17 years old."
Paul, a practicing ophthalmologist, recalled how his "hands were shaking" on his speech against abortion as a teenager.
"It was the first time I ever spoke in public really because I felt strongly that we should make a statement on this," Paul said. "All the rest of our rights, everything else that I argue for all stems from the right to life and if you don't defend the right to life how can you be for any other sort of lesser right or secondary rights?"
According to Brody, the senator, alongside Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, put forth a bill that could defund Planned Parenthood permanently. If it passes, the organization could lose "more than $500 million a year."
"While Planned Parenthood claims it does not sell fetal tissue for profit, Republican lawmakers have seen enough and are calling for the federal funding of the group to stop -immediately," Brody wrote.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has made remarks defending the controversial organization, even though she acknowledged that the videos were "disturbing."
"For more than a century, Planned Parenthood has provided essential services for women," Clinton said. "I think it is unfortunate that Planned Parenthood had been the object of such a concerted attack for so many years."
Paul contended to Brody that Clinton was on the wrong side of the debate.
"She's also taking money from Planned Parenthood," Paul said of Clinton. "She's taken at least $10,000 that we can find in contributions from Planned Parenthood officials and I've called for her to return that."
Paul added that Clinton "should send the money back."
"I think the money is tainted. I think the money comes from - indirectly at least - from people who are selling babies' organs," Paul said.
Paul's stance on abortion and Planned Parenthood has divided the libertarian movement, which considers him one of their own. Justin Raimodo argued to David Weigel of the Washington Post that in his interpretation of libertarianism, "the mother has the absolute right to abortion."
"The 'right to life' does not include the 'right' to life within someone else's body," Raimodo said. "Of course, one may consider abortion -- of, say, an 8-month-old fetus -- immoral, but many things are considered immoral by many people, and this is irrelevant to the question of whether it ought to be permitted."
However, libertarian Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., told the Washington Post that constitutional protections apply to the unborn. Amash has previously endorsed both Paul and his father, Ron Paul, for president.
"If you believe in the Constitution, and the protection of life under our Constitution, it's perfectly within the scope of libertarianism to protect life at all stages," Amash said. "It's perfectly reasonable to apply the equal protection clause to protect that. Not just reasonable -- essential."
The Washington Post pointed out that despite differences within their political movement on abortion, libertarians "can see the case against taxpayer funds going to a family planning group." They are also united on "revulsion toward liberals trying to tell them what they really think."
"The fundamental question is about the moral status of the fetus," libertarian-leaning columnist Megan McArdle said. "If nothing is done, then in three or six or eight months, that fetus will be a person, who has a right to be protected from the use of force -- and most libertarians would not argue that the father has the right to beat it to death simply because he is coercively being forced to help feed and clothe it."