The U.S. Senate will vote Monday evening on a bill to strip Planned Parenthood of taxpayer dollars in the wake of four undercover videos exposing the practices of the nation’s largest abortion provider, but even pro-life activists confess the effort will fall short until a pro-life president resides in the White House.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has scheduled a vote on legislation sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Senate Resolution 1881 will require 60 votes to cut off debate and then a simple majority to pass the bill.
Pro-life forces say they have more momentum on this issue than ever before, even though getting to 60 votes will be a stiff challenge.
“The last time we had a vote in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood, we only got 42 votes. This time we’re expecting to get a majority. We’re working toward getting 60 votes,” said Susan B. Anthony List Communications Director Mallory Quigley.
Right now, the group, also known as the SBA List, is fiercely urging fence-sitting senators from both parties to get behind the Ernst bill.
“We’ve been lobbying very hard swing Republicans and swing Democrats alike. There are three Republicans that are shaky on this issue and there’s a couple Democrats we’d really like to win over, people that have voted pro-life in the past,” said Quigley.
The Republican senators who have yet to commit on this issue are Lisa Murkowski, R- Alaska, Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Susan Collins, R-Maine. The SBA List is also trying to convince Democrats Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Joe Manchin, D-WV, Bob Casey, D-Penn., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, to support the bill.
This debate has shifted seismically in the past three weeks. Quigley says the videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress have quickly and radically changed the abortion debate.
“This is the worst PR disaster that Planned Parenthood has ever experienced,” she said. “This is getting us way farther in the fight to defund Planned Parenthood than we’ve ever been before and it’s very encouraging to see so many of our pro-life leaders, particularly Joni Ernst, one of those pro-life women we helped to elect, taking the lead on this.”
There’s a harsh reality for the SBA List and others looking to end the $528 million in taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. Even if they can finds the 60 votes to pass the bill in the Senate, they will need 67 to override a guaranteed veto from President Obama.
Quigley admits winning this fight with a Democrat in the White House is very tough.
“Planned Parenthood has an absolute stranglehold on the Democratic Party. We won’t get this done without a pro-life president. We’ve got to break that dam if we’re going to get through,” she said, saying the current president and the likely Democratic nominee in 2016 are wholly committed to the pro-choice agenda.
“The ultimate solution to this issue is electing a pro-life president. President Obama has been a longtime ally of Planned Parenthood. Hillary Clinton, who’s got a lot of support on the Democratic side for the upcoming election, she and Planned Parenthood have an incredibly cozy relationship going back decades,” said Quigley.
If a pro-life president is elected, Quigley believes they will have the support of the majority of Americans on numerous life issues.
“The people of this country are pro-life. The majority , when it gets down to brass tacks and you’re talking about actual legislation, they oppose more abortions than they support. They support these common-sense, compassionate limitations, and people don’t want to be funding abortion businesses,” said Quigley.
In addition to the effort to remove taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, Quigley says the Senate will also soon take up the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, that would ban the vast majority of abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy.
“Majority Leader McConnell has committed to that vote multiple times, so we’re expecting it sometime in the fall,” said Quigley.