See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.
Republican attacks on Planned Parenthood have stalled a bill that would have helped wounded and paralyzed veterans get access to fertility treatments.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)’s Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015 would have repealed a long-standing ban on fertility services for veterans at VA hospitals. It would provide treatment and counseling to service members and their partner, spouse, or gestational surrogate without regard to sex or marital status. Many young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are paralyzed or have grievous injuries to their reproductive organs and cannot have biological children without medical help.
But Murray pulled her own bill, which she had expected to pass, after anti-choice Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) attached amendments to it attacking Planned Parenthood.
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“I am so disappointed—and truly angry that Republicans on the Veterans Affairs Committee decided yesterday to leap at the opportunity to pander to their base, to poison the well with the political cable news battle of the day, and turn their backs on wounded veterans,” Murray said Wednesday on the Senate floor.
“We knew Republicans would overplay their hand and wouldn’t be able to resist pandering to their Tea Party base, but even we didn’t think they would go so far so fast,” said a Democratic aide.
One of the amendments would prevent the VA from working with organizations “that take human aborted babies’ organs and sell them,” a clear reference to misleading videos released by the anti-choice front group Center for Medical Progress (CMP).
Contrary to CMP’s claims, their videos do not show Planned Parenthood representatives agreeing to sell “baby parts” for a profit. Planned Parenthood maintains a legal program that, with patients’ consent, donates fetal tissue for the purpose of medical research.
Providers are legally entitled to reimbursement for costs associated with the donation, and the Planned Parenthood employees specifically deny any intention to sell tissue for a profit in portions of the videos that were edited out by CMP.
Murray said that after it became clear there was no path to getting the amendments withdrawn, she asked that the bill be pulled “rather than see it become a vehicle for partisan political attacks.”
“I know some Republicans are trying to use this latest issue as just one more opportunity to roll back the clock and take away women’s health-care options,” Murray said. “We can have that fight—we’ve had it many times before—but don’t pull veterans into the middle of it.”
A statement from Paralyzed Veterans of America lambasted the GOP move as “histrionic political grandstanding,” pointing out that many young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered “grievous injuries from explosive devices that have made them unable to conceive a child naturally.”
“If a member of Congress wants to debate the moral issues they believe supersede the need to do the right thing for these men and women who have sacrificed so much, we suggest that they meet these men and women face-to-face and explain to them why they cannot support this legislation,” the statement said.
Republicans recently stalled a breast cancer bill over concerns that it might accidentally fund Planned Parenthood, and have repeatedly derailed other unrelated legislation this year in attempts to restrict funding for abortion care. They have also proposed completely eliminating the Title X low-income family planning program, which funds contraceptive and health services at Planned Parenthood that aren’t related to abortion.