Planned Parenthood launches ads against vulnerable GOP senators

Planned Parenthood launches ads against vulnerable GOP senators
© Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday that it is launching ads targeting vulnerable Republican senators over talk of defunding the organization.

The ads will run in the home states of Sens. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteThe Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP Audit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years MORE (R-N.H.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanWATCH: Sen. Flake: “More doubtful” North Korean summit will happen  Lobbying world Trump-backed congressman wins Ohio Senate primary MORE (R-Ohio), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonContinued efforts to pass 'right to try' legislation should fail GOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary House to vote to send 'right to try' bill to Trump’s desk next week MORE (R-Wis.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyWH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race Newly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying MORE (R-Pa.), all of whom face tough reelection races next year. 

All four senators voted to advance legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThis week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill Trump attending Senate GOP lunch Tuesday High stakes as Trump heads to Hill MORE (R-Ill.), who faces one of the toughest races next year, was the lone Republican senator to oppose the procedural motion, and he is not targeted in the ads. 

Planned Parenthood has come under intense attack after the release of a series of undercover videos that showed officials with the group discussing the price of fetal tissue. 

Republicans have launched several inquiries and have sought to cut off federal funding. Planned Parenthood receives roughly $500 million in annual federal funding.

Planned Parenthood says it does not sell fetal tissue for profit and that the discussions shown on the videos reflect a discussion of compensation for expenses.

In going on the attack, Planned Parenthood argues that Republican efforts to defund it could lead to a government shutdown.

Congress must pass a new government-spending bill before the end of next month to keep the government funded, and lawmakers are expected to approve a short-term bill that would continue existing levels of funding, including for Planned Parenthood.

“First Pat Toomey voted to defund Planned Parenthood — risking healthcare for millions of women,” the Pennsylvania ad says. “Now Republicans want to shut down the government — to block funding for Planned Parenthood. What would a shutdown mean for Pennsylvania?”

The ad then shows a veteran wondering about getting benefits and a senior worrying about Social Security checks. 

“Tell Senator Toomey: Stand up for Planned Parenthood healthcare — not a government shutdown,” the ad ends. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier this month resisted calls in his party for a shutdown fight over Planned Parenthood funding, saying past efforts like the 2013 effort over ObamaCare failed for Republicans. “We’ve been down this path before,” he said. 

But presidential candidates in the Senate such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) could put pressure on McConnell, and even some more establishment senators have said they would have trouble voting for a spending bill that includes Planned Parenthood funding. 

“I don’t think anybody is talking about shutting down the government, but we want to defund Planned Parenthood, so we’ll see,” Portman told The Hill earlier this month. 

Johnson wouldn’t say whether he would vote for a spending bill that contains Planned Parenthood funding in September.

“That would be a hypothetical question. I’m not going to answer it,” he told The Hill earlier this month.

Planned Parenthood is looking to emphasize the possibility of a Republican-led government shutdown, which it thinks would be deeply unpopular with voters. 

Planned Parenthood points to a poll it commissioned from the Democratic firm Hart Research that showed about two-thirds of voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire saying they would be less likely to support their Republican incumbent senators if they supported the defunding effort. 

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the group’s advocacy arm that is launching the ads, said extremists are looking to ban abortion.  

“But we know that any politician who throws their hat in with these extremists does so at their own risk,” Laguens said. “It leaves their constituents devastated, turns off voters and, frankly, loses elections.”