Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders expressed his support for Planned Parenthood in the wake of allegations that the federally funded organization was selling aborted fetuses' organs, calling defunding attempts "an attack on women's health."
"The current attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood is part of a long-term smear campaign by people who want to deny women in this country the right to control their own bodies," Sanders said in a statement on Wednesday.
Planned Parenthood currently receives $500 million in annual funding for the 2.7 million women who use their services every year. In addition to abortions, Planned Parenthood provides cancer screenings, STI and HIV testing and general primary healthcare services. The organization's supporters say abortion constitutes just 3 percent of its services. Critics note it is the country's largest abortion provider.
Since videos highlighting Planned Parenthood's handling of fetal tissue have emerged, Republicans, including 2016 presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, have renewed calls to defund the organization. Sanders countered that this would "punish" the women who rely on Planned Parenthood, "especially low-income women, who rely on its clinics for affordable, quality healthcare services."