Secret Tapes Reignite US Abortion Funding Debate
- VOA News,August 6, 2015
Secretly-taped videos have re-energized America’s emotion-laden debate over abortion, making it a burning issue in the 2016 presidential contest and roiling Congress to the point where a federal government shutdown later this year could become more likely.
In recent weeks, an anti-abortion group has released covert videos in which staffers of Planned Parenthood, America’s leading provider of abortions and reproductive health services, nonchalantly discuss the sale of fetal tissue for clinical research.
Planned Parenthood and its affiliates receive more than $500 million annually in public funds, but are barred by law from using taxpayer dollars for abortions, relying on other revenue streams for that purpose.
Even so, Republicans say the group is unworthy of federal support.
“The revelations we have seen from Planned Parenthood are deeply disturbing,” said Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “They raise fundamental questions about what kind of society we want to be.”
Earlier this week, Senate Democrats blocked debate on a bill to defund Planned Parenthood and redirect those funds to health clinics that do not perform abortions.
For its part, Planned Parenthood has questioned the legality of the secretly-taped videos. While acknowledging their cringe-inducing content, the group says it has broken no laws or ethical boundaries.
Democrats note that research involving fetal tissue has spurred life-saving treatments and cures.
“It has led to public health breakthroughs like the polio vaccine. It is helping develop treatments for Parkinson’s, for Alzheimer’s, and more,” said Boxer.
Congress will return from its annual August recess in September facing pressing fiscal tasks. Unless lawmakers allocate money for a multitude of federal agencies and programs, the U.S. government would shut down October 1.
Some Republicans are pressing to exclude funding for Planned Parenthood, a move that would be strongly opposed by congressional Democrats and likely trigger a veto by President Barack Obama.