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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD, on March 6, 2014.Christopher Halloran /

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 10, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – After an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood fell short last week – as expected – some pro-life leaders have accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of calculated failure.

“Planned Parenthood betrays women and children every single day,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America (SFLA), the largest youth pro-life group in the nation with more than 900 college and high school clubs. “The U.S. Senate did the same.”

Last Monday, the Senate bill to defund Planned Parenthood attracted 53 votes but failed to gain 60 votes needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster.

“Majority Leader McConnell could have attached the defunding of Planned Parenthood in the transportation bill, but blocked it instead. Rather, he chose to have a free standing vote to defund Planned Parenthood knowing he didn't have the 60 votes needed for it to pass,” said Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition.

That decision drew harsh criticism from his more conservative colleagues, none more outspoken than Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, who said before the vote that “the Republican leader led the effort to continue the taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.”

After the vote, Hawkins said, “The GOP majority allowed this defeat to happen,” and “the GOP majority will have to answer to this defeat, just as much as Democratic Senators and Republican Senators Kirk, Collins, and others who did not vote for this piece of legislation.”

“U.S. Senators decided that protecting their bank accounts was more important than protecting the babies whose very bodies have been ripped apart and sold piece by piece by Planned Parenthood,” she added.

“Pro-lifers have been taken for another spin by the Republican leaders in Congress,” Hawkins said.

McConnell's supporters say that even a highway bill would have to reach a 60-vote threshold to reach cloture. The increasing vote margin shows increasing public sentiment against Planned Parenthood funding, they add.

But his critics respond that attaching the amendment to a must-pass bill puts Democrats in the position of shutting down the government in order to defund an organization caught up in a gory, deepening scandal.

The 60-vote margin is one McConnell imposed on himself. Former Majority Leader Harry Reid restricted the filibuster and other procedural rules in order to advance President Obama's partisan agenda, and judicial nominees. Upon winning a majority, McConnell restored the filibuster and promised to have a more harmonious and cooperative bipartisan relationship.

With the failure of a stand-alone bill to deprive the abortion provider of half-a-billion dollars in taxpayer funds each year, leaders have called on McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner to deny the organization funding through the appropriations process.

“The pro-life community is simply asking that both Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell go on the public record and state that no piece of legislation that funds Planned Parenthood will pass in Congress,” Mahoney said.

“If Congress approves over $500,000,000 to Planned Parenthood, it will be impossible for Republican leadership to say they are pro-life and that they embrace justice and human rights for all.”

But McConnell has rejected confrontation.

“This is a tactic that has been tried going back to the '90s and it always has the same ending — that the focus is on the government shutdown and not on the underlying issue that is being protested,” he said. “We are not doing government shutdowns, and we are not threatening to default on the national debt.”

“We intend to continue to pursue the facts, and we'll look for other opportunities to make our voices heard on Planned Parenthood.”


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