Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is one of just a handful of pro-abortion Republicans in the Senate, but she has become the most outspoken of the group saying she will fight to ensure Planned Parenthood continues getting taxpayer funding.
“I think there are some that feel very strongly and will continue the effort to defund. I think that is a fight that is not yet resolved,” she told the Anchorage Daily News.
“More fundamentally, without the care Planned Parenthood provides — without access to Pap smears, pelvic exams and breast exams — women will die,” she said in a statement with pro-abortion Deocratic Alaska Sen. Mark Begich.
Murkowski and every other Republican senator voted for a House-approved long-term budget bill (the continuing resolution that contained the Pence Amendment de-funding Planned Parenthood), but she told the newspaper the vote on the bill, which the Senate rejected, was merely a test to determine how many lawmakers supported the rest of the bill and did not reflect whether pro-abortion Republicans or some Democrats would support Planned Parenthood de-funding.
Previously, Murkowski talked about legitimate health services Planned Parenthood provides in defending its funding, ignoring its own report showing it now does more than 25 percent of the 1.2 million abortions that are done annually in the United States.
“From 2002-2008, Planned Parenthood received $342 million in federal taxpayer money through Title X funding alone. With these funds, Planned Parenthood has provided women throughout the U.S. with important family planning and contraceptive services as well as screening for breast and cervical cancers for low-income women,” she said earlier this month.
Two other pro-abortion Republicans — Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — have joined Murkowski in saying they will vote for federal funding for the abortion business. A third, Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, confused groups on both sides of the abortion debate last week with a statement saying he supported funding family planning efforts but not determining where he stands on funding Planned Parenthood itself or other abortion businesses.
A fourth Senate Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, is pro-abortion and has supported Planned Parenthood in the past, and the abortion agency endorsed his 2010 campaign for the Senate.
Meanwhile, a group of Senate Democrats considered the most likely to support de-funding Planned Parenthood have said very little on the subject, according to a report in The Hill, a congressional newspaper.
The three Democrats who call themselves pro-life — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska — have said very little. Manchin declined to comment to The Hill, Nelson’s office would not speculate on whether there would be a vote on de-funding, and Casey has repeatedly voted to support Planned Parenthood funding in the context of funding family planning efforts.
Sens. Jim Webb of Virginia (who is retiring), Jon Tester of Montana (who faces a highly competitive 2012 re-election battle against pro-life Rep. Denny Rehberg), and Kent Conrad of North Dakota all declined to tell The Hill how they would vote.
Recently, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid indicated he would reject any House Republican funding bill that yanks Planned Parenthood funding — saying not only no, but “hell no.” President Barack Obama has also said he opposes de-funding Planned Parenthood in the budget bills.
This week, several leading pro-life organizations are calling on Congress to keep pressing forward with efforts to de-fund the $1 billion-dollar Planned Parenthood abortion business, which receives $363 million from federal, state and local government. With statistics showing Planned Parenthood is the biggest abortion business in the nation and that it provides only abortion to almost every pregnant woman who walks in its door, and with videos showing it looking the other way as helpless sexually-trafficked young girls are subjected to abortions after being victimized, pro-life groups say there is little reason to fund the organization.
The buzz on Capitol Hill is that pro-life lawmakers are growing tired of short-term Continuing Resolution bills and are ready to dig in and fight hard for a long-term Continuing Resolution bill that completely defunds Planned Parenthood – which means the next three weeks could determine the direction the debate goes from here.
Leading pro-life groups have also been buttressed by support from more than two dozen fiscally conservative and libertarian groups that normally don’t weigh in on abortion debates but are urging Congress to de-fund Planned Parenthood. They released a letter to members of Congress asking for just that.