Sanders blames push to defund Planned Parenthood on 'smear campaign'

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWATCH LIVE: Hillary Clinton campaigns with Bernie Sanders The Hill's 12:30 Report Warren to rally Wisconsin college students for Feingold MORE (I-Vt.) on Wednesday accused congressional Republicans of falling in with a "long-term smear campaign" to defund Planned Parenthood.

"The attempt by Senate Republicans to cut off support for Planned Parenthood is an attack on women’s health," Sanders said in a statement. "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."

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The comments from Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate passes funding bill to avoid shutdown Conservative groups deliver last-minute warning to GOP on spending bill Congress votes to override Obama for first time MORE (R-Ky.) fast-tracked legislation to defund the agency earlier Wednesday.
 
Republicans rolled out a new proposal on Tuesday that cuts off federal funding for the organization and redirects it to other women's health organizations. 
 
The organization is back in Republicans' crosshairs after a third in a series of videos was released Tuesday, appearing to show a Planned Parenthood official in Colorado negotiating with someone posing as a buyer of fetal tissue. 
 
But Sanders defended the group, suggesting that most of the federal funding that goes toward the organization comes from Medicaid reimbursements. 
 
"Cutting that funding will be devastating to the health needs of millions of women who desperately need the quality services Planned Parenthood provides," he added. 
 
His comments contrast with remarks from Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonGingrich: FBI head would cover up Watergate The Trillary dilemma Juanita Broaddrick to Chelsea Clinton: 'Your parents are not nice people' MORE who told the New Hampshire Union Leader that “I have seen pictures from them and obviously find them disturbing." 
 
“Planned Parenthood is answering questions and will continue to answer questions," she added.
 
Senate Democrats are suggesting that they'll block the legislation keeping it from getting the 60 votes needed to overcome a procedural hurdle. 
 
Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSenate passes funding bill to avoid shutdown Congress votes to override Obama for first time Cornyn: White House 'MIA' during 9/11 debate MORE (D-Nev.) on Tuesday called the congressional push to defund the group "an attack on women's health," adding that Republicans are focusing on "some right wing crazy deal."