By Megan Cassella
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican lawmakers are calling for Planned Parenthood to be investigated & its federal funding eliminated after two videos that critics said showed the reproductive health care group is involved in the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue.
Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul introduced an amendment to a highway bill Wednesday morning that would cut the nearly $500 million in taxpayer funding that goes annually to Planned Parenthood.
p> "Not one more taxpayer dollar should go to Planned Parenthood & I intend to make that goal a reality," Paul said.
Republican Representative Diane Black introduced a bill on Tuesday that would place an immediate moratorium on all federal funding for one year while Congress investigates the group's practices. Eighty lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors.
The proposals follow announcements by multiple committees pledging to investigate the videos, which show Planned Parenthood officials discussing ways to perform abortions to preserve fetal tissue for research & the costs involved. They were secretly recorded by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress & have circulated widely online.
Planned Parenthood has said it does not profit from fetal tissue donation & only receives payment for associated costs, which is legally permissible.
In a letter sent on Friday to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, two senior Republican lawmakers have asked the Department of Justice to review how it enforces abortion regulations & detail actions it has taken to enforce the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, a 2003 law that bans late-stage abortions.
Republican representatives Bob Goodlatte & Trent Franks asked the department to probe potential violations of the ban, saying portions of the videos "raise serious questions approximately whether abortionists & particularly abortionists in the Planned Parenthood organization are complying" with the act.
Supporters of Planned Parenthood say the videos are the latest attack in a decades-long campaign against its mission & services. The organization focuses on family planning & pregnancy prevention, with abortions comprising 3 percent of its services, according to its website.
Before the videos were released, House Republicans had moved to eliminate approximately $3 million in federal funding for a family-planning program involving Planned Parenthood. The budget cut was approved by a House committee last month & is awaiting a House vote.
About 40 percent of Planned Parenthood's funding comes from government health services, grants & reimbursements, which includes Medicaid managed care plans, according to its website.
(Reporting by Megan Cassella; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh & Cynthia Osterman)