Cardinal O'Malley urges senators to back measure to defund Planned Parenthood

The head of the U.S. bishops' pro-life committee Aug. 3 urged U.S. senators to take the federal money that goes to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and instead fund women's health care providers that do not promote abortion.

"It has long been troubling to many Americans that the nation's largest abortion network, performing over a third of all abortions, receives over half a billion taxpayer dollars a year," said Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley.

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"This concern has rightly grown in recent years," he wrote in a letter to the senators.

"The most recent revelations about Planned Parenthood's willingness to traffic in fetal tissue from abortions, and to alter abortion methods not for any reason related to women's health but to obtain more 'intact' organs, is the latest demonstration of a callousness toward women and their unborn children that is shocking to many Americans," he said.

The cardinal is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

He urged senators to support S. 1881, a measure that would defund Planned Parenthood and its affiliates. His letter followed the release in mid-July of videos of the organization's officials filmed undercover by a nonprofit California-based organization called the Center for Medical Progress.

In two videos, top Planned Parenthood physicians describe how abortions are carried out to best salvage fetal tissue and organs for researchers and described a range of prices paid for different body parts.

A third video was of an interview with a technician talking about harvesting fetal body parts and included graphic footage. A fourth video was about to be released until Los Angeles Superior Court July 28 issued an order blocking its release.

Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million of its $1.3 billion annual budget from federal and state programs. According to 2013 data, the latest available, Planned Parenthood says abortions represent 3 percent of the total services its facilities provide.

On Capitol Hill, a number of Republicans in the House and Senate have called for an end to federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Several states also have launched investigations into the organization.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement said that "allegations that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true." She later apologized for "the tone" the physicians used in describing abortion procedures and also argued the videos had been heavily edited to distort the truth.

In his letter, Cardinal O'Malley added: "The Catholic Church comes to this issue from a perspective rooted in experience. Catholic charitable agencies and pregnancy help centers have helped countless pregnant women find life-affirming alternatives to abortion."

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