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

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWebb: The race to 270 Arizona and Georgia: Not swing states — yet The American electorate is pulling apart 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."

The comments from Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTop Lobbyists 2016: Hired Guns Republicans make M investment in Senate races Pelosi urges end to Pentagon's clawback of soldier overpayments 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 ClintonTop Lobbyists 2016: Hired Guns Trump small-donor army a double-edged sword for GOP Clinton camp launches final round of ads 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 ReidNevada's Heck won't say who he's backing for president GOP groups ride to rescue in 3 key Senate races Obama seeks down-ballot gains after being midterm loser 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."