While the U.S. Senate has rejected a bill to defund Planned Parenthood and transfer its federal funds to other women's health sources, Republican politicians have said they will make the defunding of the leading abortion organization key to an agreement to fund the federal government, which must be completed by the end of September to avoid a shutdown.
Since 2011, pro-life activists have attempted to push legislation removing the estimated $500 million Planned Parenthood annually receives from the federal government. However, Senate Bill 1881 recently failed to get the 60 votes required to have debate closed and a vote on the proposed legislation granted.
The vote came after outrage from Republican politicians over footage released last month by pro-life group Center for Medical Progress. In the undercover videos, Planned Parenthood officials are shown speaking about selling aborted baby body parts and confirming that the group profited from the sale of aborted "specimens." The officials are also shown talking about abortion procedures in detail in a matter-of-fact manner.
"Planned Parenthood is openly admitting they do harvest the fetal tissue and receive payments in connection with that," video maker David Daleiden of the CMP said in a recent interview with CNN. "So...the only question is are those payments constituting a financial benefit to Planned Parenthood? And is it constituting a profit that's greater than whatever costs, the real or imagined, they might have for supplying the fetal tissue? "
He continued, "When Planned Parenthood partners with a middleman biotech company that allow a technician to come into their clinic and harvest the body parts, Planned Parenthood actually doesn't incur any cost from the harvesting of the fetal organs because the technicians are the ones doing all the consenting of the patients. They're packaging the tissue, they're dissecting the fetuses, they're shipping it off. All of those costs are absorbed by the biotech company and yet Planned Parenthood is still getting paid $50 or $75, even $100 per specimen just from supplying an aborted fetus."
Among those Republicans who supported the defunding of Planned Parenthood was Donald Trump, who, as of Tuesday afternoon, leads all 2016 Presidential candidates in the polls by double digits.
Speaking on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt's show on Monday, Trump called the CMP videos "disgraceful" and said he believes Republicans should shut down the government rather than fund Planned Parenthood.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz also told reporters the GOP should not give up and should use "any and every procedural tool available" to defund Planned Parenthood.
According to Politico, when asked if that meant forcing a government shutdown over the issue, Cruz said Democrats should be the ones asked if they supported "continued taxpayer funding for an organization that has been caught on film, apparently repeatedly admitting multiple felonies -- to buying and selling body parts."
In turn, Planned Parenthood has argued that only three percent of their total funds are used in abortion-related services. The rest, it claims, goes to things like birth control, cancer screenings and tests for sexually transmitted infections. It has also claimed the videos were "deceptively edited" by CMP.
On Monday, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards released a statement applauding the vote. "While some extreme Republicans may continue to insist on shutting down the government in order to deny health care, including birth control, to millions of women, that is a fight the American people have zero appetite for and a fight these extremists will not win," she said.
House Speaker John Boehner has also emphasized that multiple congressional committees are launching investigations into the videos and said he is awaiting more facts before deciding any next steps