The Center for Medical Progress’s undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s barbaric trade in the body parts of aborted babies have pricked the conscience of the nation. As more Americans — both pro-life and pro-choice — watch the videos and witness the callous disregard for human life and dignity they display, the calls to defund the organization at the center of the controversy have grown louder and more urgent.
The House of Representatives passed legislation in September to strip Planned Parenthood of the millions of dollars in federal funding it receives each year. But opponents of the measure in the Senate have vowed to block it. Without 60 votes to break their filibuster, a defunding bill cannot be brought to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote.
As the saying goes, when a door closes, a window often opens. In this case the window comes in the form of the budget-reconciliation process. Taking advantage of this once-a-year opportunity, the House passed a bill to redirect the bulk of the federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood — about $400 million from Medicaid and other mandatory programs — to community health centers around the country that provide a wider range of health-care services to women, at more accessible locations, but do not perform abortions. The Senate parliamentarian gave Republicans the green light on Tuesday evening to include the defunding-Planned Parenthood provision in the upcoming reconciliation package.
More than 30 pro-life organizations, meanwhile, have joined together to urge the Senate to pass this bill, which also repeals significant portions of Obamacare, without delay. Unlike an appropriations bill, the Reconciliation bill cannot be filibustered; it will pass or fail by majority vote.
Senators will have to decide whether to support spending the hard-earned tax dollars of their constituents to subsidize an organization that performs 330,000 abortions per year, up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, a time when many babies can survive outside the womb. Senators will have to choose whether to support an organization that alters its abortion procedures — without the mother’s consent — in order to obtain intact organ specimens for sale. Senators will have to vote — and be held accountable.
Marjorie Dannenfelser is the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life organization dedicated to electing leaders and advancing legislation to reduce and ultimately end abortion.