Even as a prominent pro-life group has warned Republicans not to shut down the federal government over Planned Parenthood funding, GOP presidential candidates on Sunday continued to call on Congress to cut off money for the group and force President Obama’s hand on financing the abortion provider.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and others said it’s time for Republicans to stand up for their core values and block any taxpayer money that could be used for abortions.
Mr. Christie, in particular, said the party should call Mr. Obama’s bluff and send him a budget bill that would defund Planned Parenthood, the embattled women’s reproductive health group that facilitates more than 300,000 abortions each year while also providing key services such as cancer screenings.
The federal fiscal year expires on Sept. 30, and the government could shut down for the second time in two years if Republicans and Democrats don’t strike a deal.
In light of recent undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood employees describing in graphic detail how they intended to sell the organs of aborted fetuses, some Republicans say any budget bill must eliminate all funding for the organization.
However, National Right to Life, one of the nation’s leading antiabortion groups, says that strategy is foolish and ultimately would hurt Republicans and the broader pro-life cause.
“President Obama would be willing to shut down the government, take money away from the military, take money away from the national parks, and put millions of federal employees on leave. He will do anything and everything to keep that money flowing to Planned Parenthood,” the group’s president, Carol Tobias, wrote late last week.
“How long would the government be shut down? Two weeks? Two months? Six months? 15 months? I do not believe that Obama will ‘cave’ to demands to sign legislation that blocks funding for Planned Parenthood, no matter how long he has to wait for the situation to be resolved — especially since he knows that every day that shutdown continues, Republican approval numbers will sink in the polls,” Ms. Tobias wrote.
Some GOP presidential contenders say they don’t want a shutdown but do believe that Republicans on Capitol Hill would be wise to force Mr. Obama to veto a spending measure that cuts Planned Parenthood funding.
“At least the American people will know who the obstructionist is,” Mr. Christie said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If he’s going to veto it, let the American people see that he stands with the folks who believe the systematic murder of children in the womb in a way that preserves the body parts to be sold on the open market for profit is something that he stands for. That’s an important differentiation between our party and the president’s party.”
Ms. Fiorina, who has seen a significant bounce in her poll numbers since last week’s second Republican primary debate, seemed to take a similar position during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
“Something very important has changed since the last government shutdown. What has changed is the Republican Party has historic majorities in the House and now controls the majority in the Senate,” she said. “People want to know what we stand for. What does our party stand for? What do I stand for?”
Even before Republicans decide how to proceed, Democrats already are beginning to open fire, saying the GOP is waging a war on women’s health.
“This is a real attack on Planned Parenthood, which provides a lot of health services, from cancer screenings to contraceptive services to so many other of the needs women have,” Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “And to shut down the government, which some Republicans are advocating, over funding for Planned Parenthood is just the height of irresponsibility.”