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Will Mitch McConnell Allow A Vote On Planned Parenthood?

Defunding Planned Parenthood has been a stated priority of pro-life Republicans for decades. Is Mitch McConnell serious about it?


A second Planned Parenthood video dropped today, another undercover conversation published by The Center for Medical Progress. It features another Planned Parenthood official – Mary Gatter, President of the Medical Directors’ Council, the central committee of all Planned Parenthood affiliate medical directors – openly negotiating over the prices of organs and tissue from aborted babies.

“The video shows Gatter haggling over payments for intact fetal specimens and offering to use a “less crunchy technique” to get more intact body parts. Actors posing as buyers ask Gatter, “What would you expect for intact [fetal] tissue? “Well, why don’t you start by telling me what you’re used to paying!” Gatter replies. Gatter continues: “You know, in negotiations whoever throws out the figure first is at a loss, right?” She explains, “I just don’t want to lowball,” before suggesting, “75 dollars a specimen.”

Gatter twice recites Planned Parenthood messaging on fetal tissue collection, “We’re not in it for the money,” and “The money is not the important thing,” but she immediately qualifies each statement with, respectively, “But what were you thinking of?” and, “But it has to be big enough that it’s worthwhile for me.” …

By the lunch’s end, Gatter suggests 100 dollars per specimen is not enough and concludes, “Let me just figure out what others are getting, and if this is in the ballpark, then it’s fine, if it’s still low, then we can bump it up. I want a Lamborghini.”

She laughs after that Lamborghini part.

The upcoming Highway Bill vote presents a major opportunity for those who want to see Planned Parenthood defunded – the bill’s deadline is July 31. It is a piece of must-pass legislation, but vetoing it will not shut down the government. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is already reportedly planning to allow a vote on reanimating the Export-Import Bank, in a step Ted Cruz has already said he would block. But more importantly, Rand Paul is planning to press for attaching a Planned Parenthood defunding amendment to the measure – the conglomerate receives more than half-a-billion in taxpayer funding each year, and depends on those funds to survive.

This is a handy test for McConnell, who has said that he supports defunding Planned Parenthood. “What we saw was very, very disturbing. I’ve not been a fan of funding them in the past, and that remains my position,” he said yesterday. So will he allow a vote on this defunding effort – a vote that could well be successful – with the potential to lead to a presidential veto and a clash over the issue? Or will he signal that he cares more about the priorities of corporate welfare than the priorities of his pro-life base?

David Harsanyi has more today on how Planned Parenthood has been setting policy in the Obama administration about consent and more. “As The Federalist reported yesterday, since 2010, baby-crunching specialist Deborah Nucatola was one of the “experts” advising the Obama administration on family planning policy, hired by the CDC to help increase the likelihood that “children are born healthy.” … Abortion providers like to consider their vocation one driven by deep idealism and compassion—and perhaps they’ve convinced themselves of this lie. The reality is they’re involved in a moneymaking enterprise, heavily subsidized by taxpayers. What these experts represent is morally reprehensible to many Americans, but their presence also represents a huge conflict of interest beyond any ethical questions. Planned Parenthood is the worst kind of crony capitalist… [N]early everyone in the expert working group is either connected to Planned Parenthood or benefits from increased numbers of abortion.”

The weakness of being a crony capitalist entity that depends entirely on government largesse is that you cannot afford to lose that money bag. Corporate donations to Planned Parenthood, while significant, are not sufficient to maintain their operations on a national scale in an era of declining abortion rates. Removing the more than half-a-billion in taxpayer dollars that go to support Planned Parenthood has been a stated priority of pro-life Republicans for decades.

So is Mitch McConnell serious about it?