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GOP's Planned Parenthood defund drive crashes in Senate -- for now

Planned Parenthood officials' blunt talk on fetal organ sales launched the defund drive.


A Republican drive to take away federal tax dollars from Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading reproductive health services provider, has been blocked in the U.S. Senate -- for now.

Anti-abortion activists have been in an uproar after the conservative Center for Medical Progress released under videos showing agency officials, including one with a wine glass in hand, talking bluntly about the harvesting and pricing of aborted fetus organs.

A vote to advance the GOP demand to take away the $500 million the government gives the group went nowhere fast Monday. Sixty votes were needed to advance it in the 100-person chamber. It received 53 votes, with 46 senators opposing it.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) slammed the GOP for the legislation, calling it just one more piece of a deliberate, methodical, orchestrated right-wing attack on women's rights."

"I'm sick and tired of it," she said. "Women everywhere are sick and tired of it. The American people are sick and tired of it."

"I want to say to my Republican colleagues, the year is 2015, not 1955 and not 1895," Warren added.

That fetal tissue is used in medical research is not. Stem cells taken from aborted fetuses are considered by some scientists to developing cures for several conditions and diseases, including ALS.

The push to punish the group is expected to come up again this fall after the Congressional summer recess. It's also become an issue in the GOP presidential primary.


Republicans, like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is a candidate, accused Planned Parenthood of committing "multiple felonies" and when asked, did not rule out the prospect of a government shutdown.

The GOP could attach the Planned Parenthood legislation to a bill to fully fund the federal government; money is only authorized through September.

Cruz's felony assertion rises from video of Planned Parenthood putting prices on fetal organs. Profiting from the sale is illegal. The group said the money it recoups helps funed the fetal tissue research, which is legal.

Another GOP presidential wannabe,Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, reacted to the Senate vote with a vow to terminate its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood, a move that would heavily impact poor and low-income women.

Cecile Richard, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, has apologized for the officials' language in the gotcha videos. She said they should have talked more sensitively.

No one acted illegally, she said.

After Monday's vote, she released this statement: "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."

John A. Oswald is editor-at-large at Metro and can be found on Twitter@nyc_oz.
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