WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) introduced a bill July 22 that would, if passed, end all taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood while Congress investigates allegations that physicians within the organization sold body parts from aborted fetuses for profit.
Planned Parenthood, with an annual budget of more than $1.1 billion, received $528 million in government health services and grants and "reimbursements" in 2013-14, according to the group's annual report. That means nearly 50 percent of the abortion provider's budget comes at the expense of American taxpayers – many of whom oppose abortion on religious and moral grounds.
According to a statement from the senator's office, the bill – the Defund Planned Parenthood Act – would set a one-year moratorium on funding for the abortion provider unless it ceases performing abortions for the full term of the investigation. Lankford said the bill would, in the meantime, divert funding to other community organizations such as community health clinics that serve low-income women.
"The recent videos uncovering Planned Parenthood's inhumane abortion practices have hit a nerve with many Americans," Lankford said in the statement.
"While the government investigates Planned Parenthood to determine if their practice of adapting their abortion procedures to harvest the organs of children violates federal law, they should not continue to receive taxpayer money. Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million in taxpayer money every year.
"This is a sensitive topic for many and I am aware our nation is divided on the issue of abortion, but it is common sense that we shouldn't force taxpayers to assist the harvesting of human organs."
Planned Parenthood, according to Lankford's office, provides women's health screenings and contraceptives, but about 3 percent of its business is abortion. The company, through the use of abortion mega-centers, has captured nearly one-third of the abortion market in the U.S., performing more than 300,000 abortions a year.
On July 16, Lankford spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate about Planned Parenthood, and in the address encouraged the legislative body to take up the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S.1553) to ban abortions after five months (or 20 weeks). Only nations like China and North Korea allow abortions that late, he said.
Lankford said Americans need to again renew discussions about what it means to value children and their rights.
"This morning in an Appropriations hearing, that the President and I both were in, we had extensive conversation about the rights of orca whales. And this protracted conversation went on and on, that many people were also connected to, about the rights of orca whales and the care for them. Then we had a protracted conversation about horse slaughter and how horses would be humanely put down. But in the middle of all that conversation happening today, there were children still being aborted with an instrument reaching into a mother, tearing apart a child but carefully protecting certain organs because those organs would be valuable to sell," Lankford said.
"Now, the challenge that we have on this as a nation is, the argument is for that baby. That baby's really not a baby, it's just a fetus; it's tissue. That's not a human baby is what everyone is told. That's just tissue and it's up to the mom to determine what happens to that tissue. And then on the flip side of it moments later they take that tissue and then sell it because it's human organs that are needed for research. You can't say in one moment that's not a human and then sell it for the next moment as a human organ and say now suddenly it is. It was a human all the way through. There was never a time that wasn't a child, never a time that wasn't a human, and it seems the ultimate irony to me that we spend time talking about humane treatment of animals being put down like in horse slaughter and we completely miss children being ripped apart in the womb and their body parts being sold."
Lankford, who fought back tears at one point, also said:
"Maybe we need to start again as a nation, asking a basic question. If that's a child, and in our Declaration [of Independence] we said every person that we believe is endowed by our Creator to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, maybe we need to ask as a nation again, do we really believe that?"
Lankford joined Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), has asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to investigate whether Planned Parenthood violated federal law prohibiting the sale of human fetal tissue. The letter was also signed by presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), among others.
The White House's acceptance of any such bill defunding Planned Parenthood would most certainly be vetoed by President Barack Obama.
In a press briefing after the first undercover video aired, showing Dr. Deborah Nucatola negotiating the price of fetal organs while dining on a salad, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked if the president would ever withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood. His answer was short.
"No," Earnest said. He then called on the next reporter.