Attempt to defund abortionists thwarted in US Senate

Democrats in the US Senate have blocked an attempt to withdraw taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, the leading providers of abortion in the US. 

The Senate voted 53-46 in favour of the procedural bill, falling short of the 60 votes needed to stop a Democrat filibuster against the de-funding measure, thereby preventing a vote on the substantive bill. 

The bill aimed not merely to remove funding from Planned Parenthood, but to redirect the taxes hitherto allocated to the abortion-providing organisation to health centres that provide for women’s healthcare in other ways, through, for example, prenatal and postpartum care, immunisation, sexually transmitted disease testing, and cervical and breast cancer screenings.

During the Senate debate, Republican legislators repeatedly referred to a series of ‘sting’ videos that showed Planned Parenthood representatives describing how abortions can best be performed to preserve intact bodily organs and arranging for the sale of those organs.

The attempt to de-fund Planned Parenthood, which receives more than $500 million of its annual $1.3 billion budget comes from federal and state taxation, had been backed by the head of the US bishops’ pro-life committee. 

In a letter to senators on August 3, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley wrote “It has long been troubling to many Americans that the nation's largest abortion network, performing over a third of all abortions, receives over half a billion taxpayer dollars a year," adding “This concern has rightly grown in recent years.

“The most recent revelations about Planned Parenthood's willingness to traffic in fetal tissue from abortions, and to alter abortion methods not for any reason related to women's health but to obtain more ‘intact’ organs, is the latest demonstration of a callousness toward women and their unborn children that is shocking to many Americans," he continued.

The cardinal, who had already the conduct revealed in the videos illustrated what Pope Francis had called “widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many” pointed out in his letter that the Church has a right to speak on this issue.

“The Catholic Church comes to this issue from a perspective rooted in experience,” he said, adding, “Catholic charitable agencies and pregnancy help centres have helped countless pregnant women find life-affirming alternatives to abortion.”

Attention will now turn to attempts to de-fund Planned Parenthood through the budget process, while a dozen states conduct investigations into the organisation.