Photo credit: Ron Cogswell (CC-By-2.0)
Photo credit: Ron Cogswell (CC-By-2.0)
Photo credit: Ron Cogswell (CC-By-2.0)

Senate Democrats defeated a cloture vote on a motion to proceed with a bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood on federal taxpayer funds late Monday afternoon.  The vote tally was 53 to 46 on S.1881, a bill sponsored by U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), but required 60 votes to break a Democrat filibuster of the bill.

All Republicans, with the exception of U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) who voted against, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who said he voted against in order to bring the measure up again and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who was absent campaigning voted in favor of cloture. Graham has gone on record supporting the defunding measure.  The Republican caucus was joined by U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) both voted for cloture, but have said they would vote against the actual bill itself.

“I want to thank my colleagues for their efforts to redirect federal funding taken from Planned Parenthood to other eligible entities that provide health services for women. The footage depicting Planned Parenthood employees discussing in gruesome detail the organization’s role in the harvesting of the organs of unborn babies is morally reprehensible and raises a number of questions that taxpayers deserve answers to. I will continue to press the Department of Health and Human Services to cooperate with all current and future investigations. I remain committed to getting these answers because protecting our most vulnerable is an important measure of any society,” Ernst said in a prepared statement after the vote.

Ernst delivered remarks from the Senate floor introducing the bill.

 The transcript of Ernst’s remarks from the Senate floor:

Mr. President, I rise today to speak on an issue that has shaken the moral compass of our society.

The phrase “it’s a boy!” is one we often use when celebrating new life. Instead, this was spoken by a Planned Parenthood employee as the body of an unborn baby boy was picked apart and harvested for organs like a liver, kidneys and heart. We’ve watched as other Planned Parenthood employees talked about “less crunchy” techniques to preserve baby organs for buyers, and grumbled about “war torn” unborn babies before being sold for parts.

While it would be easier to ignore these videos, today, we are standing up and shining a light on what is really happening. This is human life and Planned Parenthood – the nation’s single largest provider of abortion services – is harvesting baby body parts.

The American people are shocked and horrified by the utter lack of compassion and disregard shown by Planned Parenthood for these women and their babies.

This gruesome footage resonates within our collective conscious as it goes against the very principles that we stand for.

As a mother and grandmother, the gravity of Planned Parenthood’s callous and morally reprehensible behavior cannot be ignored. I am committed to defending life, because protecting the most vulnerable is an important measure of any society.

I am proud to stand before you today – with 45 co-sponsors – and offer legislation that will defund Planned Parenthood, while safeguarding funding for women’s health services.

This legislation:

  • Prohibits federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • Protects federal funding for women’s health services like prenatal and postpartum care, cervical and breast cancer screenings, diagnostic laboratory and radiology services.
  • And guarantees there is no reduction in overall federal funding available to support women’s health.

This legislation redirects federal funding taken from Planned Parenthood to other eligible entities that provide health services for women, like community health centers and hospitals.

There would be absolutely no reduction in overall federal funding available to support women’s health.

Community health centers provide more comprehensive primary and preventative health care services – except abortion – regardless of a person’s ability to pay. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood facilities do not perform in-house mammograms.

The American taxpayers should not be asked to fund an organization like Planned Parenthood that has shown a sheer distain for human dignity and complete disregard for women and their babies.

These videos are hard for anyone to defend and pull back the curtain on Planned Parenthood’s careless practice of rummaging for unborn baby organs to be harvested and sold at a price.

I leave you with this one question: who do we want to be as a nation?

Before us today is an opportunity to vote for legislation that will protect the most vulnerable and women’s health.

Thank you Mr. President, I yield the floor.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), a co-sponsor of the bill, also spoke in favor of the defunding Planned Parenthood.

 The transcript of Paul’s remarks:

There comes a time in the history of nations when a civilized people must stand up and decide whether or not life is important, whether or not life is something special, and whether or not there’s maybe something greater than just us that has to do with life.

It sickens me to me what’s been going on with Planned Parenthood. Some of my first memories of my children were the ultrasound that I saw before they were born. We still keep those. We now find out, though, that this technology that can do wonders, that can save babies, you can perform surgery now in the uterus and the baby can survive, these same techniques that are being used by Planned Parenthood to manipulate the baby into a position to harvest the baby’s organs.

I think all America should be sickened by this, but it should also trouble us if we are a society that’s not sickened by this. And I think the time has come to have a full-throated debate about this, and the time has come to end all taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. Some will say, well, where will people get their health? We have 9,000 community health centers and 700 Planned Parenthood clinics. Difference is abortion. In fact, you can get many things at a community health center you can’t get at Planned Parenthood.

But the only thing you get at Planned Parenthood that you can’t get anywhere else is abortion. This debate isn’t just about abortion. This debate is about little babies who haven’t given their consent. It’s about time we had a debate in our country about this, and it’s about time we said enough is enough.

The question is, can a civilization long endure that doesn’t respect life? Do we lose everything else about what makes us human if we’re unwilling to protect life? Can we stand up and defend our other rights if we’re not willing to stand up and defend the most basic of rights? So I come here today to ask my fellow senators to vote to defund Planned Parenthood, and I hope they will.

Thank you, Mr. President.

“Every life is precious, and Planned Parenthood’s depraved actions run contrary to the sanctity and dignity of life. Today, inexplicably, Senate Democrats stood in the way of this commonsense bill, which would have taken taxpayers off the hook for Planned Parenthood’s heinous actions while also providing women with necessary healthcare. Iowa Republicans applaud Sen. Ernst for her actions, and urge her to keep fighting for the values we all hold dear,” Republican Party of Iowa Co-Chair Cody Hoefert said in a released statement after the vote.

“I applaud Iowa Senator Joni Ernst for once again being the voice of Iowa common sense by standing up for the most vulnerable, the unborn. The videos that have emerged of Planned Parenthood doctors and leaders casually negotiating the sale of aborted babies’ body parts are sickening and disturbing. It’s clear that Senator Ernst believes, like me, that every life is sacred and worth protecting,” Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds said in a prepared statement.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser noted more Senators voted for defunding compared to the last attempt in 2011.

“When the Senate last voted to defund Planned Parenthood, only 42 voted for it. Since that 2011 effort, things have only gotten worse for the nation’s largest abortion provider. The Center for Medical Progress has released less than half of its damning evidence of brutality and callousness at Planned Parenthood and, as more videos are made public, outrage will surely grow,” Dannenfelser said.

“Our legislative strategy continues to be twofold. We will support all aggressive efforts this fall to get taxpayers out of Planned Parenthood’s profit-driven, abortion-centered enterprise. The Senate must also press on with a vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would save lives by literally taking some children off of the table for vivisection after five months,” she said.

“With Hillary Clinton and other national Democratic leaders doubling down on their support for unlimited abortion on-demand, up until the moment of birth, paid for by taxpayers, voters and pundits should expect to see the abortion issue play a major role in the upcoming general election. The majority of Americans who support common ground limits will be looking for pro-life candidates who lead on this issue. Meanwhile, Susan B. Anthony List will work hard to ensure voters do not forget who fails to stand for the most innocent among us,” Dannenfelser added.

“The American people should not be forced to fund a billion-dollar corporation that was caught on camera negotiating the sale of baby body parts. Our tax dollars should fund local public health clinics instead of bailing out Planned Parenthood. It’s time to defund Planned Parenthood, and the Senate should have done that today; however, the effort to protect Americans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars has only just begun. Americans should continue to demand an end to corporate welfare for Planned Parenthood until it becomes a reality,” Casey Mattox, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom said in a released statement.

“Planned Parenthood’s political arm is a major backer of many Democratic senators – who today voted to block a bill to defund their political ally,” said Carol Tobias, National Right to Life president. “We recognize that cutting off this politically connected abortion mega-marketer is a long-term project, and we are encouraged that today’s tally represents a marked increase in opposition to Planned Parenthood since 2011, when only 42 senators voted to support a cutoff. Shame on Senate Democrats for voting to allow hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to fill the coffers of the nation’s largest abortion provider.”

“Today was the first step in starting a debate to defund Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation. Anticipation of additional undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials treating human body parts like a product to be bought and sold has the organization doing damage control. Thankfully, opportunities to show the gruesome reality of this organization are abounding,” Penny Nance, President and CEO of Concerned Women for America stated Monday evening in a released statement.

“The issue presented to the Senate chamber today by Senate Democrats was that Planned Parenthood contributes to health services for women. But the issue that the Senate needed to address is whether the Congress can morally allow taxpayer dollars to fund an organization that bends the rules in order to profit off of baby body parts,” Nance said.

“Despite the Senate not obtaining the 60 votes needed to advance Sen. Joni Ernst’s bill, S. 1881, Concerned Women for America LAC will diligently work to chip away at the inhuman practices carried out by the largest abortion provider in the nation, Planned Parenthood. Our half-a-million members are grateful for the leadership shown by Sens. Ernst in this endeavor and for the members who voted in favor of S.1881,” Nance added.

Also 18 House Republicans have also vowed to block any essential funding bills that do not include language defunding Planned Parenthood.  President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.

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