Presidential races

Cruz, Paul and Carson rally against Planned Parenthood

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A trio of Republican presidential candidates headlined an anti-abortion rally in D.C. on Tuesday, pushing for criminal investigations into Planned Parenthood and vowing that Congress would vote to defund the organization.

Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Ky.) and Dr. Ben Carson spoke to a couple hundred activists gathered at the South end of the Capitol on a sweltering day to protest against the nation’s largest abortion provider.

The gathering, coordinated by the pro-life millennial group Students for Life of America, was sparked by a string of undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress showing Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of fetal tissue.

{mosads}“When we see the truth, after the time for truth comes a time for action,” Cruz said. “Today is the time for action. Today, the U.S. Department of Justice should open a criminal investigation into…whether Planned Parenthood nationally is a criminal enterprise breaking the law.”

Cruz also urged law enforcement officials to investigate local Planned Parenthood affiliates; called for congressional hearings; urged the media to push Hillary Clinton on the issue; and declared that federal funds for the group must be eliminated.

“When you have multiple individuals caught on tape apparently admitting to multiple felonies that carry with them long jail times, justice must be served,” Cruz said.

Planned Parenthood has pushed back against the videos, saying they’re heavily edited extractions produced by a “militant” anti-abortion rights group. The group says it doesn’t profit from fees it receives for fetal tissue, but is only compensated for the donations to medical research, which is legal.

Planned Parenthood has apologized for the tone of the videos. In one case, the exchange was held over wine at a restaurant, and in another, an official said she wished she could afford a Lamborghini.

“This callous disregard expressed over wine and cheese should…infuriate us all,” said Paul. “We should stop once and for all any penny of money going to Planned Parenthood. And I’m calling today for Hillary Clinton to return the money she’s been receiving from Planned Parenthood officials. The time is now to take a stand.”

Paul announced at the rally that the Senate would vote to defund Planned Parenthood before summer recess, although a House vote to do the same is not expected any time soon.

Planned Parenthood gets about $500 million annually from the federal government, much of it through reimbursements from federal programs like Medicaid. The group is prohibited from using those funds for abortion services.

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and the only African-American running for president, likened abortion to slavery. He said that a majority of Americans now identify as pro-life rather than “pro-death,” and that the shifting attitudes would eventually lead the U.S. to reject abortion the same way it rejected slavery.

“We are capable of changing,” Carson said. “There was a time in this country when people thought it was OK to own other people and thought they could do whatever they want with them because they belong to me.

“I can beat them, I can kill them, I can do whatever I want to do to them. And we fortunately as a society matured and began to actually think about what the words of our Declaration of Independence actually meant… There can be no liberty and pursuit of happiness if there is no life.”

Tags Hillary Clinton Planned Parenthood Rand Paul Ted Cruz

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