US & Canada

Planned Parenthood funding target of Senate Republicans

Senator Ted Cruz attends an anti-abortion rally outside the Supreme Court Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican presidential candidate, has suggested that a government shutdown may be necessary to force the issue

Republican Senators are moving ahead with plans to defund Planned Parenthood after anti-abortion activists claimed its employees were selling the organs of aborted foetuses.

The release of a series of hidden-camera videos has prompted renewed scrutiny of the healthcare provider.

Planned Parenthood says its employees were discussing foetal tissue donations for research, not for-profit sales.

Democrats have said they would block efforts to cut the group's funding.

In the videos filmed by the anti-abortion group, Center for Medical Progress, activists posing as medical researchers discuss acquiring intact organs removed from aborted foetuses.

Image caption Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical research, appears in the video

Foetal tissue is sometimes used by researchers to study diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. However interest from the medical research community is declining, according to reporting by Reuters.

"Planned Parenthood's criminal conspiracy to make money off of aborted baby parts reaches to the very highest levels of their organization," said David Daleiden, the activist who helped create the videos.

Planned Parenthood received $528 million (£338 million) from taxpayers in 2014. Of the roughly one million abortions performed in the US, about a third occurred in clinics run by Planned Parenthood.

Critics of the effort to defund the organization point out that funding received from the federal government is not legally permitted to be used for performing most abortions.

Planned Parenthood also provides family planning advice, cancer screenings, and contraceptive health which pro-choice advocates say would be put at risk if the Republican bill succeeds.

President Obama said that he would veto the bill if it passes, which experts say is unlikely. Republicans may then attempt to write the law into the government budget, which could possibly trigger a government shutdown.

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