Senate GOP leadership is moving toward a vote on a bill that would cease federal funding to Planned Parenthood due to concerns about the reproductive health provider raised by heavily-edited videos recently posted online by an anti-abortion group.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) placed the bill, sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), on the Senate calendar as anti-abortion lawmakers had been accusing leadership of blocking a vote on the issue. No date yet has been scheduled for a vote.
The two videos, apparently filmed undercover by a group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress, purport to show Planned Parenthood officials casually haggling over the price of specimens from aborted fetuses with actors posing as buyers for tissue researchers. In the videos, the officials also graphically describe the process by which tissues are procured in abortion procedures.
Planned Parenthood has said the edited videos misrepresent its operations, and affiliates act legally and ethically in their participation in tissue donation programs by only charging researchers for costs incurred in providing the specimens.
Nevertheless, the videos have prompted an uproar among abortion foes, who, among other things, are calling for federal funding to the organizationto be cut off. (Currently, federal funding to Planned Parenthood is only approved for non-abortive services.) Two house committees have launched investigations into the matter, and lawmakers have also called on the Department of Health and Human Services to get involved.
When asked earlier this week whether the House of Representatives would take up a defunding measure, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was noncommittal, telling reporters that lawmakers would wait for more details to emerge from the investigation before deciding their next move.