Shutdown showdown: Planned Parenthood hits the floor

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Calls to de-fund and efforts to defend Planned Parenthood have reached a fever pitch in light of the potential shutdown on Capitol Hill, with Democrats pointing to Republicans’ unwillingness to drop Planned Parenthood cuts as the reason for an imminent government shutdown.

“Republicans want to shut down our nation’s government because they want to make it harder for women to get the health services they need,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the floor Friday. “This is indefensible and everyone should be outraged — men and women should be outraged.”

Both sides have gone to the mat over the issue, with pro-lifers arguing that Planned Parenthood is an abortion factory and pro-choicers pointing to the health-care aspects of Planned Parenthood’s mission.

The group, which receives approximately $350 million in federal funding annually, has been advertising extensively about its good works. In a new video, actress Scarlett Johansson makes the case for Planned Parenthood’s importance. To Johansson, it is all about women’s health.

“A cancer that goes undetected, a sexually transmitted disease left untreated, a woman unable to get the birth control she needs to plan her family and take control of her own destiny,” she says. “This is the disastrous vision of some leaders in the United States House of Representatives,” she charges, citing the millions of women who get health care from the group.

Also on offense, and not to be outdone, are the pro-life advocates who have been issuing action alerts and commercials about the extensive number of abortions the group provides. In a current advertisement a Planned Parenthood clinic director for eight years, Abby Johnson, explains why she left the organization.

“I learned that Planned Parenthood is not about women’s health care at all. Their primary profit center and their entire corporate culture is about abortions,” Johnson says in the ad. “My superiors actually instructed me to increase the number of abortions at my facility. I couldn’t take it anymore. Low income women need real health care services and it is time America knew the truth about Planned Parenthood.”

In spite of the allegations Planned Parenthood is not backing down.

“We’ve been around 95 years. We’ll definitely be around the next 95,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told the Huffington Post. “Women’s need for quality affordable care is not going away, and neither is Planned Parenthood.”

Planned Parenthood is already prohibited from using government money for abortions, however pro-lifers argue that the money given to Planned Parenthood for other causes allows them to divert other money to the abortion cause.

The wrangles are now on the House Floor with Democrats standing firmly in defense of Planned Parenthood and the Republicans asserting that a shutdown is not about Planned Parenthood, but about the spending.

“A bill that fails to include real spending cuts will hurt job growth and signal that Washington’s not serious about dealing with its spending addiction,” House Speaker John Boehner said Friday.

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