After the Planned Parenthood videos: The message Congress must send

Last November, the American people cast their votes for Republican candidates across the country. The results were undeniable: conservative majorities elected in both Chambers of Congress for the first time in a decade. And since January, the Republican-led Senate has been delivering real results for the American people.

But what must not be overlooked is the critical work – often unheralded by the media – being done by the new majority to advance a culture of life and protect our most vulnerable: the unborn.

Earlier this year when the Senate considered legislation to ensure continued access to Medicare for seniors, Republicans in both Houses of Congress made sure a provision known as the Hyde Amendment– barring taxpayer dollars from funding abortion services – was included. And when Democrats in the Senate tried to derail a bill to fight human trafficking because it included these same protections, Republicans stood resolute in our conviction that the American people should not fund a practice so many fundamentally oppose. That bill, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which included a provision ensuring federal funds would not be used for abortions, passed 99-0.

The recent Planned Parenthood videos should serve as a crystal clear call to action; we can—and must—do better.

Over the summer, a series of graphic videos were released depicting Planned Parenthood executives discussing the harvesting of organs from aborted babies. Not only is the content of these videos utterly repulsive, but they reveal a remarkably dark side of humanity: one that values the organs of an unborn child over the untapped potential of a young human life. Listening to Planned Parenthood executives callously discussing the selling of body parts from children who never had a chance at life should shake anyone’s conscience to its core. Since the release of these videos, Republicans in Congress have been fighting to protect the unborn, and to hold Planned Parenthood accountable.

At the beginning of August, the Senate considered a bill that would cut off all federal funding from this organization and redirect it to fund women’s health services at Community Health Centers. Almost every Republican voted to move this bill forward—and most co-sponsored it—but Democrats refused to cast politics and special interest groups aside, and blocked it.

My colleagues and I also initiated congressional oversight on several levels. Republicans in both Chambers took the lead to begin formal investigations of Planned Parenthood in several committees to determine the full scope of any misconduct. And nearly every Senate Republican sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, demanding a review of Planned Parenthood’s practices to provide answers to the questions raised by the disturbing scenes in these videos.

As those investigations continue, the Senate will vote on legislation that would make major strides in protecting the rights of the unborn nationwide, and further restrict Planned Parenthood’s ability to continue these horrific practices.

This week the Senate will consider the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act—legislation I’ve cosponsored that would prohibit nearly all abortions after a pregnancy has reached five months, nationwide. The significance of this bill cannot be understated. At five months gestation, an unborn child’s fingerprints and taste buds are developing, and, according to many doctors and experts, the child can feel pain. Putting an end to nearly all abortions after five months, or twenty weeks, should be a moral imperative for all of us. Passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act could save thousands of unborn children a year, and would be the biggest step forward for the pro-life movement since the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.

The recent Planned Parenthood videos should serve as a crystal clear call to action; we can—and must—do better. While protecting the sanctity of life is an ongoing mission that will never end, this week’s vote is an important opportunity to send a clear message that America is a nation that seeks to advance a culture of life and opportunity for everyone, especially our most vulnerable.