Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky are backing an effort to completely strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood.
The chain of health clinics is currently under fire over a controversial video that purported to show that the organization sells aborted fetal tissue. The video was obtained during an activist’s sting operation, and Planned Parenthood officials argue the footage was heavily edited.
There is a call for health officials to investigate claims raised by the videos.
But ahead of formal findings, GOP Senate leaders—with McConnell and Paul, a presidential candidate, at the forefront— are quickly working to remove all Title X funds from the organization.
This week, McConnell announced that he asked Sens. Paul, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, to draft legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. During a press conference at the Capitol Wednesday, a group of Republican senators threw their support for the proposed legislation.
Paul took time off from his presidential campaign to attend the press conference and argued thousands of community health centers across the U.S. could take over the health care services Planned Parenthood is currently providing.
“There is absolutely no need for any public funding of Planned Parenthood,” he said. “There is no excuse for it and we should end all funding for Planned Parenthood.”
Local Planned Parenthood officials said this legislation could hurt thousands of low-income people in Kentucky and Indiana. In a statement, the group said they operate health centers in Louisville, Lexington and New Albany, which “all benefit from Title X family planning funds.”
Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky’s spokeswoman Tammy Lieber said that funding helps “low-income women and men receive preventive reproductive health care, including Pap tests, breast and testicular cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, and annual wellness exams.”
She said combined those three health centers in Kentucky and Indiana saw 6,715 patients last year, more than 70 percent of which have incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
McConnell said he has fast tracked the bill.
“This will ensure that taxpayer dollars that are supposed to be spent on women’s health are in fact spent on women’s health,” he said during Wednesday’s press conference. “It will ensure we are funding that and not some scandal plagued organization."
Senators will vote on it next week.