House Republican leaders canceled a vote on Tuesday on legislation that would have created a commemorative coin to raise money for breast cancer awareness, after some House conservatives raised concerns the coin sale funds would be used to support an abortion rights group at the center of a controversial new video.
The bipartisan bill directed the Treasury Department to mint a new coin and send some of the proceeds from it to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. But shortly before the vote on what many considered a non-controversial coin, several anti-abortion rights advocacy groups launched an effort to defeat the measure. They argued the Komen Foundation supports programs run by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a group that provides women’s health care, including abortion services.
Backlash to a video – circulated on Tuesday by an undercover group opposed to abortion rights – only ignited controversy on what is already a flashpoint over a social issue. The video shows a Planned Parenthood staffer seeming to discuss the sale of body parts from abortions.
“Komen has had a close connection with Planned Parenthood for a number of years and some folks hadn’t realized that,” Kansas GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp told CNN. He said several outside groups increased opposition to the bill by saying they planned to “score” the vote – a practice of keeping tabs on each member’s record on abortion-related legislation.
Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, released a statement saying the video was “heavily edited.”
“At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does – with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards,” Ferrero said, explaining the protocols at their centers.
Heritage Action, a conservative advocacy group, sent out a “key vote” alert to members.
“The bill would require the U.S. Treasury to mint coins that would funnel up to $4.75 million to Dallas-based Susan G. Komen – an organization that notoriously funds abortion giant Planned Parenthood,” the group said.
House Republicans decided to cancel the vote and revise the bill to funnel the money from the coin to another group supporting breast cancer research.
“We are working to ensure that charitable organizations which receive funding from this legislation are 100% focused on diagnosing, treating and curing breast cancer,” a senior House GOP leadership told CNN.
This is the second time House GOP leaders were forced to yank legislation shortly before a vote because of blow-back from their own members. Last week a vote on the annual spending bill funding the Interior Department was canceled because of controversy over an amendment regarding the display of Confederate flags at federal grave sites.
The House Democrats’ campaign arm, seized on the episode.
“Following a protracted battle to protect the Confederate battle flag, which has crippled the entire government funding process, it seemed the House Republicans couldn’t look any more dysfunctional or out of touch,” Meredith Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement. “But, amazingly, they have sunk to a new low by preventing the creation of a commemorative coin that funds breast cancer research.”