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Senate Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood, Obama Promises Veto

The Republicans are also planning to pass a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act, though neither of the bills are expected to go anywhere due to the president's veto power.
December 3, 2015, 9:28pm
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc., testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on 29 September 2015. (Michael Reynolds/EPA)

The US Senate voted today in a largely symbolic measure to defund Planned Parenthood, despite a promise from the White House that President Barack Obama will veto the bill.

Senate Republicans were able to swing the vote to end federal funding for the organization just months after leaked videos purportedly showing Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of fetal tissue. The issue became a hot-button one for Republican lawmakers in Congress and around the country, including presidential candidates, though several investigations into the videos have found no wrongdoing by the organization.

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The Republicans are also planning to pass a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act, though neither of the bills are expected to go anywhere due to the president's veto power. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois called the vote "political posturing" and a "waste of the time of the Senate."

"The president can't be shielded by the weighty decision he'll finally have to make when this measure lands right on his desk," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week, according to NPR. "When the president picks up his pen, he'll have a real choice to make."

The vote also comes just a week after a shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado that left three people dead. The gunman, Robert L. Dear, reportedly made comments about "no more baby parts" following the shooting.

Related: Planned Parenthood Says Colorado Shooting Was a Hate Crime Caused by 'Toxic Rhetoric'

Planned Parenthood released a statement Wednesday criticizing Congress's efforts to defund the group.

"What happened last Friday is a tragedy, and it is unconscionable that extreme politicians in Congress are doubling in their attacks on Planned Parenthood and the people who rely on us for preventive health care. Enough is enough," Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

Though federal funding for Planned Parenthood will likely remain intact for the duration of the president's term, many state-level Republican lawmakers, including those in Texas and Missouri, have introduced legislation to defund or limit access to abortion services at Planned Parenthood in their states.

"We're focused on providing high-quality, compassionate health care to people all across this country, and we won't be deterred by violence, smear campaigns, or cynical political attacks like this," Laguens said. "Women, men, and young people deserve to be able to access reproductive health care free from violence, threats, or intimidation, and we'll make sure they can get the care they need and deserve."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.