Leaders from some of the country's largest pro-life groups sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to make good on their promises to redirect taxpayer dollars away from Planned Parenthood.
On Tuesday, Susan B. Anthony List, a group that supports pro-life candidates, and nine other abortion opponents sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives and Senate calling on them to pass legislation that would redirect the $500 million Planned Parenthood receives each year from taxpayers to women's health clinics that do not perform abortions.
Similar legislation passed both houses of Republican-controlled Congress in 2016, but was vetoed by President Obama. The letter says the GOP "rhetoric must be translated into law" and urged Congress to use the budget reconciliation process to achieve the defunding attempt.
"The pro-life majority that now controls both chambers of Congress and the White House must pass a reconciliation bill stopping the vast majority of federal funding for Planned Parenthood," the letter says (emphasis in the original). "Doing anything less brings into question whether this Congress can truly be called the pro-life Congress."
The pro-life leaders say voters handed the GOP control of the House, Senate, and White House in part because of their promise to defund Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider. The defunding measure gained momentum after undercover videos were released documenting Planned Parenthood's organ harvesting operations, leading nearly every GOP presidential candidate, including President Trump, to endorse the withdrawal of taxpayer support.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) also pledged to include a defunding measure in the reconciliation bill that would have repealed and replaced Obamacare—a bill that failed to clear the Senate. The letter voiced frustration about the lack of action.
"Excited by this clear proof that a defunding bill could reach the Oval Office, the American people responded by sending President Trump, who pledged to sign legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, to the White House," the letter says. "Congress has failed to send President Trump a bill redirecting Planned Parenthood funding to alternative providers."
The letter acknowledges the challenges of repealing and replacing Obamacare, the latest attempt which saw three Republican senators—Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), and Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine)—break from the Senate GOP to join Democrats. It called on Congress to opt for a "narrower bill" eliminating funding if it is unable to work out an Obamacare replacement strategy.
"Giving up is not why the voters sent pro-life Republicans to Congress," the letter says.
Pro-life groups spent $11.7 million on election contributions between 2010 and 2016, when the GOP took control of the House, Senate, and White House, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. More than 95 percent of those donations went to Republican candidates. SBA List was the largest donor from that group having contributed $1.4 million to candidates and committees, as well as $1.8 million in outside spending in 2016.
The letter was also signed by leaders from the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Americans United for Life, Students for Life America, Family Policy Alliance, American Values, March for Life Education and Defense Fund, Live Action, and the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.