Rand Paul pushes to defund Planned Parenthood as group cites ‘smear’ effort
Nonprofit health group denies profiting from aborted fetal tissue and says two videos misled the public with ‘highly edited’ tapes and false charges
The Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul said on Sunday he planned to continue his push to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, over a dispute about the treatment of aborted fetal tissue.
Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, pushed back, portraying the filmmakers behind two videos which have stirred up controversy on the issue as anti-abortion extremists.
“The folks behind it are part of the most militant anti-abortion movement,” she said. “This entire effort is a political smear campaign.”
Paul, a Kentucky senator on the libertarian wing of the Republican party, appeared on Fox News Sunday. He said: “I’m going to try to force a vote on this. I think the time is now to discuss whether taxpayer dollars should be going to such a gruesome procedure.”
Two videos have been released by an activist group, Center for Medical Progress(CMP), in an attempt to show that Planned Parenthood is breaking the law by selling fetal remains. The man behind the group, David Daleiden, has said 10 to 12 more videos will be released.
Planned Parenthood has categorically denied profiting from organ sales and accused the CMP of misleading the public with “highly edited” tapes and false charges. No illegal activity appears to have been caught on tape.
Richards said on Sunday that clinics in fewer than five states were harvesting fetal tissue. She denied that any procedures had been altered to make harvesting more effective, and said fees for the material were never charged, only the costs of transferring the tissue to research institutes.
“Women at a very few places are allowed to donate fetal tissue for life-saving research,” she told ABC News. “This is laudable, that women and their families choose to make available fetal tissue in order to save other folks.”
Richards said that Planned Parenthood staff captured on the footage in the two videos released so far had been “reprimanded for their tone” in the filmed conversations. But she said that the organisation had broken no laws.
Also on Fox News Sunday, the Republican presidential candidate and former chief executive of Hewlett Packard Carly Fiorina called the actions of the women’s health network “an abomination”.
Planned Parenthood had lobbied against ultrasound technology being shown to pregnant women before they decided on whether to have an abortion, she said, yet were using the very same technology to assist in the harvesting of body parts.
“I find it astounding that anyone can defend this,” she said.
On the same show, Paul said: “People are outraged by this and I think the American people deserve to have a vote on it.”
Paul said he was pursuing several strategies, including a so-called discharge petition that he said required the support of at least 16 additional senators. The Kentucky Republican’s earlier attempt to attach a defunding amendment to transportation legislation was blocked by the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.