The US House of Representatives has passed the Women’s Health and Public Safety Act to give states the authority to defund Planned Parenthood.
Speaking from the House floor in support of the measure, which was sponsored by Representative Sean Duffy, a Republican from Wisconsin, Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey, cited the Pope’s September 24 address to a joint meeting of Congress.
“Pope Francis admonished a joint session of Congress to follow the Golden Rule – to ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ – and said that the Golden Rule compels us to ‘protect and defend human life at every stage of development,'” Smith said.
State and federal funding of Planned Parenthood has come under scrutiny after a series of videos, filmed undercover, were released by the Center for Medical Progress, based in Irvine, California.
The videos show physicians and others associated with Planned Parenthood describing the harvesting of fetal tissue and body parts during abortions at their clinics. Also discussed are what researchers are charged for the tissue and parts.
Top Planned Parenthood officials dispute what the videos show, saying they have been edited to manipulate the interviews and any mention of money for tissue and body parts is related to customary handling fees charged the researchers. The center stands by its videos.
“States should have the freedom to choose who they subsidize and why,” Smith said in his remarks before the House passed the bill . A companion bill awaits action in the Senate.
“Although much of the media continues to ignore this scandal, Planned Parenthood’s meticulously crafted facade of care and compassion has been shattered,” he said. “Caught on tape, Planned Parenthood’s top leadership – not interns or lower level employees – show callous disregard for children’s lives.”
In mid-September, the House passed Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 which would prohibit for a one-year period federal funding “for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc., or any of its affiliates or clinics, unless they certify that the affiliates and clinics will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs, an abortion during such period.”
The measure says the restriction will not apply in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.