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Wicker: Planned Parenthood Scandal Demands Swift Action

Nearly 1,500 Mississippians have contacted me in recent weeks horrified by videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal organs obtained from abortions. I share their outrage.

In the coming days, the Senate is expected to consider a bill, S. 1881, introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), that would redirect Planned Parenthood’s federal funding to alternative programs that support women’s health. Planned Parenthood has received substantial funding from taxpayers under the Obama Administration, amounting to more than half a billion dollars each year. Although the group cannot use these funds for abortions, the video’s suggestion of grotesque and potentially criminal practices merits an urgent reconsideration of its federal aid.

Holding Planned Parenthood Accountable

As a longtime champion of the right to life, I am a cosponsor of the legislation to redirect Planned Parenthood’s funding. I reject the suggestion that the bill is an attack on women’s health, as Planned Parenthood advocates assert. Instead, it is a safeguard against the inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars. Planned Parenthood is hardly the only option for women to seek important health-care services. Mississippi, for example, has more than 170 community health center sites, which play a major role in providing quality primary care and screenings for women across the state.

I also expect any misconduct by Planned Parenthood concerning fetal tissue and partial-birth abortions to be properly investigated. I recently joined 48 Senators in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services urging an internal review and full cooperation with any investigations.

Streamlining Restrictions on Abortion Coverage

A clear majority of Americans oppose the use of federal funds for abortion, but no law exists protecting all taxpayer dollars from this use. Instead, Congress prohibits abortion coverage on a year-by-year basis through the Hyde Amendment, which is attached to annual appropriations bills.

In February, I introduced the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” to replace this piecemeal approach with a comprehensive, across-the-board law banning public funds for abortion. My bill would eliminate any possible loopholes, ensuring that no federal program, including those under Obamacare, is exempt from abortion restrictions.

Protecting the Unborn From Painful Late-Term Abortions

I also hope the Senate will act on Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which has already been passed twice by the House of Representatives. The bill would prohibit the abortion of a fetus that is 20 or more weeks past fertilization, except in cases of rape, incest, or where the woman’s life is at risk. The United States is one of only seven countries in the world, including North Korea, that allows elective abortions at such a late stage of pregnancy. Science reinforces the need for greater protection of the unborn, indicating that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.

I remain committed to upholding and protecting our country’s fundamental promise of life and liberty for all Americans, including the unborn. Since Roe v. Wade, more than 55 million innocent lives have been taken by abortion. The Center for Medical Progress, which released the incriminating footage of Planned Parenthood officials, has announced that there are more disturbing videos to come. At the very least, these revelations are an unambiguous reminder that when issues of medical ethics and government funding meet, they should be deliberated in the public square – not behind the closed doors of the nation’s largest abortion chain.

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