February 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a historic vote Friday afternoon, the US House voted to strike all federal funding for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Every year the abortion giant receives hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding.

The congressional body voted 240-185 in favor of the amendment, introduced by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), to the 2011 Federal Spending Bill.

Immediately after the vote Rep. Pence released a statement saying: “This afternoon’s vote is a victory for taxpayers and a victory for life. By banning federal funding to Planned Parenthood, Congress has taken a stand for millions of Americans who believe their tax dollars should not be used to subsidize the largest abortion provider in America.

“I commend my colleagues in both parties for taking a stand for taxpayers and a stand for life.”

The amendment will now go before the Senate.

The vote came after a heated debate in the House. It also comes in the wake of an explosive series of videos released over the last two weeks by the pro-life organization Live Action, which showed Planned Parenthood staff repeatedly willing to aid and abet the trafficking of underage “sex workers” by offering advice to an undercover investigator posing as a “pimp” on how to obtain secret abortions, contraception, and STD tests.

In a web page released right after the vote, Planned Parenthood called the legislation “the most dangerous legislative assault in our history, and it cannot go unanswered.” In an open letter to Congress that the organization is asking supporters to sign, the abortion giant says: “To every member of Congress, know that we stand together today against this outrageous assault, and together we will not lose.”

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, blasted the vote.

“The new anti-choice House leadership promised a jobs agenda and is now waging a war on contraception,” Keenan said. “These lawmakers are out of control, and we will hold them accountable for their actions.”

In a statement Tony Perkins of Family Research Council congratulated the House and Rep. Pence: “Planned Parenthood, a scandal-plagued abortion organization, must be held accountable for abusing innocent young victims while receiving hundreds of millions in federal dollars each year.”

“The fact that Planned Parenthood not only left minor girls trapped in prostitution, but encouraged it, shows an incredible lack of humanity on their part. What goes on behind the windowless offices of Planned Parenthood, as Live Action’s videos show, is both saddening and shocking, but the fact that it has often been done with taxpayer dollars is indefensible.”

Lila Rose, the President of Live Action, issued a statement turning the attention of pro-life advocates to the coming battle in the Senate.  “The case to cease funding is crystal clear,” she said. “But for any Senator who remains unsure, imagine explaining to your constituents that you voted to keep sending $350 million of their tax dollars to an ‘non-profit’ that puts young girls in harm’s way and made $63 million in profits by performing over 300,000 abortions last year. It’s time once and for all to stop financing these activities.”

At some times poignant, at others openly bitter, House lawmakers on Thursday night went head-to-head over the momentous amendment.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), a top pro-life leader in the House, described the conversion of former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson when she was confronted with the reality of how an abortion kills a child.

“Despite the best and slickest market branding money can buy, the stubborn fact remains that Planned Parenthood clinics are among the most dangerous places on earth for a child,” said Smith. “Not only does Planned Parenthood vigorously lobby and litigate against parental notification and consent laws—thus enabling secret abortions for very, very young girls—but now we‘ve learned from recent undercover taped investigations at several of its clinics ... that Planned Parenthood employees were found to be more than eager to assist people posing as sex traffickers to procure abortions for underage girls.”

In an emotional rebuttal, Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier of California said that she “lost a baby” to “that procedure that you just talked about,” and that “to suggest as you have that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed, or done cavalierly, or done without any thought, is preposterous.”

“Planned Parenthood has a right to offer abortions. Last time I checked, abortions were legal in this country,” she said in a speech that won applause.

A number of other pro-abortion Democrat House lawmakers defended the abortion giant, saying that stopping its taxpayer funding “will risk the lives and safetly of millions of American women.” Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-CA) argued that stripping family planning funds was actually detrimental to taxpayers.

“For every dollar invested in family planning services, taxpayers save four dollars,” said Slaughter, presumably following the same logic as PPFA president Cecile Richards and former Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who have argued that allowing fewer people to be born means less cost to the government to support them.

The amendment’s future remains uncertain: while the majority of the U.S. Senate remains in Democrat hands, some moderate members may be persuaded to side with the funding cut. Following the amendment’s success in the House, Rep. Pence called on members of the upper chamber to finish the job. “I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to support this legislation and end federal funding of Planned Parenthood once and for all,” he said in a statement.