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Senate introduces must-pass bill to defund Planned Parenthood, dares Democrats to shut down the gov’t

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - The Senate has set up a confrontation with the White House over defunding Planned Parenthood, which could result in a government shut down.

The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved a Continuing Resolution that would fund the government through December 11 - but which would deprive Planned Parenthood of government revenue for one year, unless its facilities met strict criteria.

The Continuing Appropriations Resolution of 2016 states that no government funds will go to "Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. and its affiliates" unless their facilities "will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs, an abortion during such period."

The bill includes exceptions if that abortion is the result of rape, incest, or is performed to save the life of the mother.

Instead, the anticipated $235 million savings will be diverted "to other eligible entities to provide women’s health care services," such as community health centers which outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities.

That $235 million "is offset with money from the Obamacare slush fund," an aide in a Republican senator's office told LifeSiteNews.

The proposal does not reduce the total amount of federal funding for women's health care, which specifically incorporates "family planning services (including contraception)."

The bill is scheduled to come before the Senate for a vote on Thursday.

Committee Chair Thad Cochran, R-MS, said he encourages senators "to support this continuing resolution so that we can meet our responsibility to the American people to keep government operations open and address the challenges facing our nation.”

Two U.S. Senators told LifeSiteNews they look forward to doing precisely that.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-MT, told LifeSiteNews that he is "pleased the Senate is voting to defund Planned Parenthood," and that he "looks forward to casting his vote" for the CR.

Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood in the Senate, said it was important for this fight to move forward by whatever legislative means present themselves.

"We must continue to fight for the lives of unborn children through multiple legislative routes," he told LifeSiteNews. "This debate shouldn’t be partisan. I hope more Democrats will join us in at least putting a freeze on this spending while Planned Parenthood is being investigated for the tragic harvesting of baby body parts.”

The continuing resolution incorporates the wording of the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015. Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee - whose bill passed the House last Friday - told LifeSiteNews that she is "deeply grateful" the bill will come before the Senate.

"This will be the truest test of Democrats’ allegiances to date," she said. "These provisions in the Continuing Resolution do not speak to the legality of anyone’s abortion; they simply place a one-year moratorium on federal funding of the scandal-ridden Planned Parenthood while Congress investigates the very real potential of illegal activity."

She is so committed to its passage that she promises "to personally call every senator I know to urge support for this Continuing Resolution with my bill attached."

"I truly believe that a vote against this measure, in light of what we already know about Planned Parenthood, is indefensible,” Congressman Black told LifeSiteNews.

Congressman Tim Huelskamp of Kansas hopes the House will follow suit. “If GOP leaders in Washington really care about life, the House must put its own CR on the floor that defunds any organization that harvests and sells baby parts," he said.

Pro-life advocates tell LifeSiteNews they are happy this bill is moving forward, although President Obama threatened to veto any bill that does not contain funding for the nation's largest abortion provider, possibly provoking a government shut down.

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"Planned Parenthood has no right to American taxpayer dollars," Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox told LifeSiteNews. "We applaud the efforts in Congress to redirect our taxpayer dollars toward organizations that provide real health care to women, not ethically and legally challenged organizations like Planned Parenthood.

They say only pressure from pro-life grassroots leadership, and some tireless pro-life lawmakers, made this possible.

"I'm so thankful that Senator McConnell has finally listened to the pro-life movement, which worked so hard to elect him and other pro-life leaders to fight for the most vulnerable among us," Kristan Hawkins at Students for Life of America told LifeSiteNews. "Because of our movement's pressure, the Senate GOP has decided to lead and not immediately surrender to the extremism of President Obama and his abortion allies."

Scottie Hughes, the news director of the Tea Party News Network said, "Senator Ted Cruz is one of the few politicians who is doing exactly what he promised the voters of Texas he would do if they sent him to D.C., and that is not just go along with the crowd to keep the status quo, but stand up for what is right."

"It's a small battle on an otherwise massive-scale war," said conservative commentator Steven Crowder, who added it was "good to see someone growing a pair" on the issue.

And if the resolution does result in a government shutdown?

"I can't think of a better reason to shut down the government, than to stop murder of innocent babies and the sale of their organs!" Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, told LifeSiteNews. "Shut it down, and shut down Planned Parenthood."

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