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President Obama vetoes bill to defund Planned Parenthood

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This article was updated at 3:16 p.m. Eastern time.

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - President Barack Obama has vetoed a bill that would have denied most taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood.

The budget reconciliation bill, which also eliminated major parts of the Affordable Care Act and repealed the medical device tax, would have cost Planned Parenthood hundreds of millions of dollars.

While his veto comes as no surprise - no president has stood more squarely alongside this $1.3 billion industry as President Obama - pro-life leaders said it comes as an inflection point in the ongoing national debate over the proper dignity of human life.

Such a bill "would reverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America," President Obama wrote.

"This is a monumental moment for the pro-life movement," said Concerned Women for America CEO and President Penny Nance. For the first time, Congressional Republicans were able to put a bill on the president's desk denying public funds to Planned Parenthood after videos surfaced this summer showing its officials casually discussing the dismemberment of unborn children for profit.

“President Obama’s gall is stunning," said Rep. Diane Black, R-TN, after the veto.

"He spent this week discussing the need to ‘protect innocent people’ and ‘save more lives’ yet he callously vetoed a bill to protect the most innocent and vulnerable among us from the heinous abuses of Planned Parenthood," she said, referring to the president's impassioned speech outlining his executive action on gun control.

During that address, he shed a tear over the deaths of children.

Live Action founder Lila Rose found it ironic that "President Obama, against the will of the people and the Congress that they elected, is forcing every taxpaying American to subsidize the nation's biggest abortion chain – a corporation that single-handedly kills over 320,000 children every year by abortion, including children who are up to six months of development in the womb."

"It's no surprise that in polls, voters have rated President Obama as the country’s worst president since World War II," she said.

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, found it “no surprise that President Obama, the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history, vetoed a bill that would have redirected hundreds of millions of dollars away from a likely criminal organization and to true women’s health organizations, the fact that Congress figured out a way to redirect those funds away from Planned Parenthood without needing two-thirds of the Senate in the first place is historic."

"This veto – only one of eight bills that Obama has vetoed and the very first pro-life one - underscores the need for the nation to elect a pro-life president in 2016 who does the will of the people instead of pandering to a corrupt and deceitful organization that betrays women and sells them, and their preborn babies, out for the bottom line,” she said.

The president's spokesman belittled the passage of the budget reconciliation bill, which took place after Obama signed the $1.1 trillion budget that fully funds Planned Parenthood.

"They succeeded in a victory that amounts to absolutely nothing," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday.

But pro-life advocates say President Obama is the one whose actions were petty and counterproductive.

"All he has done is kill an historic bill that would have redirected existing funding from the scandal-plagued Planned Parenthood to thousands of better, low-cost community health care providers that serve women and families far more comprehensively," said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. "It is past time to end the government’s immoral partnership with Planned Parenthood that has been forced upon the American people.”

"Mr. President, by vetoing this bill, you alone bear the moral responsibility for sending taxpayer dollars to a group that has engaged in the selling of baby body parts," said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins this afternoon.

The reconciliation act, which passed the House this week by a bipartisan vote of 240-189, would also be vetoed by Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or Martin O'Malley. Every presidential hopeful in the still-crowded GOP field has agreed to defund Planned Parenthood if elected.

"This has shone a light on our future and the importance of electing a pro-life president," said Nance, whose organization vows to campaign actively across the nation in favor of the presidential candidate who supports life and religious liberty.

Although the bill's failure comes as a setback, Rep. Black said the moment is instructive for the forthcoming national debate on abortion during the 2016 election.

"We set up an important moment of contrast and proved that President Obama is the one person standing between the dismantling of ObamaCare and the restoration of a culture of life,” she said.

The most powerful Republican in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, promised the same vote will have more than procedural significance in 2017. 

“We have now shown that there is a clear path to repealing ObamaCare without 60 votes in the Senate," he said. "So, next year, if we’re sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law."

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