House passes Planned Parenthood defund bill as lawmakers slam 'horrific' videos

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) speaks at a rally with pro-life groups to demand Congress defund Planned Parenthood in the budget that must be passed by the end of September. on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Sept. 10, 2015.Reuters

Despite the threat of a government shutdown, the US House of Representatives moved on Friday to block federal funding to abortion service provider Planned Parenthood for a year and curb certain abortion practices.

The "de-fund" Planned Parenthood bill passed with a 241-187 vote, mostly along party lines, as lawmakers fumed over the contents of the sting videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, according to Fox News.

"Anyone who watches those videos—they are horrific," House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said. "Aborting live babies for profit—why would anybody want to spend tax dollars for that?"

Many other lawmakers agreed with his statements. "After watching some of the horrific undercover videos of Planned Parenthood employees laughing and haggling over the prices of precious parts of priceless babies, I was both infuriated and nauseated," Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert told News Max. "It is a tragedy to think federal taxpayer dollars were subsidizing these atrocious crimes. It is unacceptable and morally reprehensible."

As for Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, she brought back to life the case made against Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion doctor who is now serving life in prison for killing babies who were born alive during failed abortions.

"Images of Kermit Gosnell killing babies who were born alive after a botched abortion are sickening and have renewed the demand for accountability," Blackburn said. "New documentation of the heinous practice of harvesting the body parts of babies as part of the abortion process has raised serious questions about the possible systematic and repeated violation of state and federal laws."

Georgia Rep. Tom Price, who also happens to be a physician, explained that their votes were "not about party ideology; it is about common, human decency and who we are as a people."

Some conservatives initially wanted to defund Planned Parenthood as part of a must-pass government budget bill, but others tried a different approach on Friday by presenting two bills that are not connected to the overall budget.

The first bill would block Planned Parenthood's federal funds for a year, while the second one would impose criminal penalties on doctors who do not even attempt to save infants who are born alive during abortion procedures. The second measure passed with a 248-177 vote.

However, these two new measures might eventually be dismissed since the Senate has not acted on any Planned Parenthood defund proposal. Many Democrats in the Senate strongly opposed such a move.

Congress has until the end of September to pass a new budget; otherwise, they will be putting the government at risk of a shutdown, just like what happened back in 2013. However, McCarthy assured that this won't be the case. "We will pass a bill that funds the government," he affirmed.

Democrats have accused Republicans of playing games with the economy. The White House issued a statement before the hearing that the shutdown threat made by House Republicans is "a game of chicken with our economy that we cannot accept."

But Republican lawmakers insist that something must be done to stop Planned Parenthood, even as the organisation claimed that it has broken no law and that the sting videos released by undercover anti-abortionists are heavily edited.