Planned Parenthood is supposed to receive $528 million in federal funding, but could possibly lose that support if congressional Republicans get their way. A proposal to strip the funding, in the wake of controversial videos taken of group personnel speaking of unborn fetuses, will be presented for a Senate vote Monday. Photo: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock
WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans are turning up the heat on Planned Parenthood -- taking a step Wednesday that could lead to the group losing its federal funding -- as controversy continues over newly released undercover videos that include group personnel discussing fetuses.
The Senate scheduled a vote for Monday on whether the longtime pro-abortion group should lose the millions in federal fiscal support it has received for decades.
Republicans and even some Democrats have criticized the videos, and conservative Sen. Ted Cruz suggested Planned Parenthood should be stripped of its federal backing -- even if that might lead to a possible government shutdown this fall, POLITICO reported Wednesday.
Other Republicans are sharing similar sentiments. Wednesday, 18 House GOP members told leaders that they "cannot and will not support any funding resolution ... that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood."
If Congress stripped the funding, Planned Parenthood would lose nearly $530 million it receives in annual financial assistance. And it doesn't appear to be a strictly partisan issue at this point.
"The American people, Republicans and Democrats alike, are horrified by the utter lack of compassion showed [in the videos] by Planned Parenthood for these women and their babies," Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Ia., said. "In fact, now, Hillary Clinton is calling these Planned Parenthood images disturbing, and I agree."
Sen. Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, has also been critical of the words heard on the videos. But Wednesday, he reiterated his belief that the organization is a valuable one for millions of American women.
"The current attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood is part of a long-term smear campaign by people who want to deny women in this country the right to control their own bodies," he said. "Let's be clear: Federal funding for Planned Parenthood does not pay for abortions. The vast majority of government funding that Planned Parenthood receives is through Medicaid reimbursements."
"The work that Planned Parenthood does is about mammograms and preventative health," Democratic candidate Martin O'Malley said. "So that's what I know, but I'll defer to others for commenting on that video and whatever videos they are pumping out there."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday urged Democrats to consider stripping the group's funding -- saying the money that would go to Planned Parenthood could instead be given to others that perform the same services.
At least 60 votes are required to advance the fund-stripping bill -- an amount some political analysts don't believe Republicans will be able to muster.