Republicans Block Veterans Bill Over Planned Parenthood Fight

Supporters of Planned Parenthood protest March 22, 2012 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Supporters of Planned Parenthood protest March 22, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

After the release of the heavily-edited Planned Parenthood videos, Republicans all over have been scrambling to score political points with the right-wing by calling for investigations, as well as for defunding the organization altogether. This hatred for Planned Parenthood is nothing new. For decades, anti-choice activists and conservative politicians have made it a target, sometimes literally. From firebombings to stabbings or other acts of violence, there isn’t much they won’t do in order to put Planned Parenthood out of business once and for all.

In fact, the group that released the doctored videos has a history of working with the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue which has a senior policy advisor who was convicted of trying to bomb a San Diego clinic in the 1980s. Over the past decade or so, acts of violence have diminished somewhat as anti-choice activists have successfully worked within the Republican Party to shutter one clinic after another through legislation instead of bombs or bullets. As the Republican Party has drifted ever further toward the fringe, it has allowed these right-wing ideologues who were once considered to be weirdos they had to placate once in a while to now dictate the party’s agenda.

A favorite tactic of Republicans since they took back control of Congress is to tack on amendments or riders to unrelated legislation, and then complain bitterly when President Obama refuses to sign it. It could be a bill for infrastructure or veterans, but chances are that a rider targeting the Affordable Care Act or Planned Parenthood will be attached, forcing the bill to be pulled or voted down. This time, it was the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act which was introduced to help female veterans:

The Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act, a bill authored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that would require fertility treatment and counseling for “severely wounded, ill, or injured” military members or veterans, had been expected to proceed through the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday. But Murray said she has asked that the bill be pulled thanks to proposed amendments from Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) — including one that would have, in Tillis’s words, prevented the Department of Veterans Affairs from working with “organizations that take human aborted babies’ organs and sell them.”

That was an unmistakable reference to recent criticism of Planned Parenthood’s efforts to harvest fetal tissue for research purposes, a practice that has come under close scrutiny from conservatives after antiabortion activists published undercover videos that they say shows evidence of unethical and potentially illegal activities by Planned Parenthood executives. (Source)

This is nothing new for Republicans, but once again, House Speaker Boehner or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will almost certainly take to their Facebook pages and complain with a straight face about how “a bill with bipartisan support to help veterans was shut down by Democrats.”

While Speaker Boehner doesn’t come across as a frothing right-wing ideologue on the subject of abortion, he represents a Congressional majority that counts many people who are among their ranks, and he has to keep them happy in order to retain his leadership position in the House.

Expect a whole lot more grandstanding and blocked bills over the issue of Planned Parenthood between now and the 2016 election. Anti-choice extremists believe they have a real winner with these doctored videos, and they’re not going to let this opportunity to destroy Planned Parenthood slip through their hands.


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