Planned Parenthood, whose Ann Arbor location is shown on September 7, 2014, operates 820 health centers in the US.
Susan Montgomery/Shutterstock.com
Planned Parenthood, whose Ann Arbor location is shown on September 7, 2014, operates 820 health centers in the US.
Now playing
01:36
What does Planned Parenthood do?
Will Mullery/CNN Politics
Now playing
02:30
Ethics vote collapses under weight of backlash
BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 20:  President-elect Donald Trump stands outside the clubhouse following his meeting with Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor, at Trump International Golf Club, November 20, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 20: President-elect Donald Trump stands outside the clubhouse following his meeting with Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor, at Trump International Golf Club, November 20, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.
Now playing
01:21
Trump: Congress should not weaken ethics group
Rep. Seth Moulton (D)
CNN
Rep. Seth Moulton (D)
Now playing
01:48
Congressman: No way Congress is too ethical
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 15:  Anti-gun activists march to the U.S. Capitol as Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) wages a fillibuster on the Senate floor in order to force a vote on gun control on June 15, 2016 in Washington, DC.  Murphy wants the Senate to vote on a measure banning anyone on the no-fly list from purchasing a weapon. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Pete Marovich/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 15: Anti-gun activists march to the U.S. Capitol as Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) wages a fillibuster on the Senate floor in order to force a vote on gun control on June 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. Murphy wants the Senate to vote on a measure banning anyone on the no-fly list from purchasing a weapon. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:15
House GOP guts ethics panel
Reps. Jack Bergman and Val Butler Demings
Jeremy Moorhead / CNN
Reps. Jack Bergman and Val Butler Demings
Now playing
02:50
Meet two of Congress's freshman class presidents
Sen. Chuck Schumer smiles as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid talks to the media on Capitol Hill on September 27, 2016.
YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty
Sen. Chuck Schumer smiles as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid talks to the media on Capitol Hill on September 27, 2016.
Now playing
02:46
Democrats target Trump nominees
US President-elect Donald Trump waves to the media after meeting with David Rubenstein, co-founder of Carlyle Group December 28, 2016 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
US President-elect Donald Trump waves to the media after meeting with David Rubenstein, co-founder of Carlyle Group December 28, 2016 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
Now playing
06:38
Reporters discuss Trump's administration
President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour 2016 at the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center December 13, 2016 in West Allis, Wisconsin.
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour 2016 at the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center December 13, 2016 in West Allis, Wisconsin.
Now playing
05:53
Will Congress embrace Trump's outsourcing tax?
TOPSHOT - Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a rally March 13, 2016 in West Chester, Ohio. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a rally March 13, 2016 in West Chester, Ohio. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
05:25
GOP representative won't defend Trump's view
12/7/16, The White House, Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama sits with David Axelrod for his podcast "The Axel Files" in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 7, 2016. 

Gabriella Demczuk / CNN
Gabriella Demczuk for CNN
12/7/16, The White House, Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama sits with David Axelrod for his podcast "The Axel Files" in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 7, 2016. Gabriella Demczuk / CNN
Now playing
01:24
Obama: Dems need to go beyond policy points

Story highlights

Republicans need the backing of at least 50 of their 52 members to repeal Obamacare

There are at least two pro-choice senators who caucus with the GOP

Washington CNN —  

A push by Republican congressional leaders to defund Planned Parenthood could threaten passage of their top-priority legislation to repeal Obamacare because of opposition to the anti-abortion provision by two key GOP senators.

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that Republicans will move to strip all federal funding for Planned Parenthood as part of the process they are using early this year to dismantle Obamacare.

Congressional Republicans have tried for years to zero out all federal funding for Planned Parenthood because the group provides abortion services. The fight over Obamacare helped trigger a 16-day government shutdown in 2013, and Democrats and President Barack Obama insisted any Planned Parenthood provision targeting the group be removed from a bill to fund federal agencies.

The decision to add the controversial Planned Parenthood language, which is opposed by most Democrats, could have a major impact on getting the Affordable Care Act repeal legislation through the Senate because supporters need the backing of at least 50 of their 52 members and two pro-choice senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, won’t commit to approving the bill with the Planned Parenthood provision in it.

Further complicating matters for Senate GOP leaders is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, who announced this week he plans to vote against the Obamacare repeal legislation because the underlying budget measure it is attached to doesn’t balance and adds to the deficit. If Murkowski, Collins and Paul all voted against the budget bill, it would be enough to torpedo the Obamacare repeal legislation.

“I’m going to wait and see what happens,” Collins told reporters, indicating she thinks it’s too early to decide how she will vote on the bill. “Obviously, I’m not happy to hear the speaker wants to include defunding of Planned Parenthood, an extremely controversial issue in the package.”

Murkowski’s told reporters Tuesday she was still weighing the issue. In 2015, she joined Collins in voting for an amendment to strip Planned Parenthood funding out of a budget bill that would have also repealed much of Obamacare. But Murkowski ultimately backed the repeal measure even though it had the anti-Planned Parenthood provision, which Obama ultimately vetoed.

“At this point and time, I have not been involved in a sit down with colleagues about specifics of reconciliation. So it’s tough for me to speculate or engage in any conjecture,” Murkowski said earlier this week. “We’re going to be having a lot of discussions about that probably as soon as this week.”

When asked her position Thursday, Murkowski’s spokeswoman Karina Petersen said, the senator “is concerned about defunding Planned Parenthood as she is a longtime support of Planned Parenthood and has opposed broadly defunding the organization.”

Republicans could drop the Planned Parenthood measure, but doing so could spark anger from the right-flank of their party and potentially make it harder to defund the organization at a later date.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in his chamber, said “that’s certainly where I am” when asked if he wanted to include defunding of the organization into the repeal measure. But he noted “that’s place we start” and that nothing has “finally been decided yet.”

“While we would like to have all 52 senators, if we have a vice president in the chair, that gives us a little bit of flexibility on reconciliation,” Cornyn said Thursday, referencing the ability of the vice president to break Senate ties.

The vast majority of federal money that Planned Parenthood does receive funds preventive health care, birth control, pregnancy tests, and other women’s health care services. Democrats also point out that much of the money the group received is through the Medicaid program, which reimburses health care clinics that provide care to those covered by the federal program.

Under the long-standing “Hyde amendment” that is attached to annual funding bills, no federal money is allowed to go to programs that include abortion services, unless they are needed to preserve the life of the mother or are caused by rape.

Democrats immediately denounced the news that Republicans again were working to bar future federal funds for Planned Parenthood.

“This is a priority for the Republicans,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Thursday afternoon. “So I just would like to speak individually to women across America: this is about respect for you, for your judgment about your personal decisions in terms of your reproductive needs, the size and timing of your family or the rest, not to be determined by the insurance company or by the Republican ideological right-wing caucus in the House of Representatives. So this is a very important occasion where we’re pointing out very specifically what repeal of the (Affordable Care Act) will mean to woman.”

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” Thursday that “concerned” women have lobbied against the move throughout the day.

“His phone has been jammed up today,” Richards said.

Anti-abortion rights groups point to a letter that the Trump campaign signed in September pledging support for “Defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions, and re-allocating their funding to community health centers that provide comprehensive health care for women.”

“Vulnerable pro-abortion Democratic senators need to do a serious gut check, especially following the 2016 election outcome, and decide if they will stand with their constituents and women’s health care or continue to funnel money to big abortion,” warned Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, in a written statement.

CNN’s Jason Kurtz contributed to this report.