October 23, 2016

Shootings in Colorado Add to Challenges for Congress

Even as the authorities say they remain uncertain what precisely led a gunman to attack a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs on Friday, a comment attributed to the suspect by a senior law enforcement official — “no more baby parts” — fed directly into an already high-pitched controversy over Planned Parenthood and its practices.

The phrase was an eerie echo of language used by politicians here and in many state capitals since an anti-abortion group began releasing its undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing possible donations of fetal tissue for medical research.

Congressional supporters and opponents of Planned Parenthood were uncharacteristically subdued over the weekend as they awaited more information about the shooting, which killed three people and wounded nine, so it was unclear how the episode might affect Congress’s year-end agenda after lawmakers return on Monday from their holiday recess. But considering the extent to which Planned Parenthood has fomented political passions on both the left and the right in Washington, that restraint seems unlikely to hold.

Long before Friday, Planned Parenthood was expected to be prominent in the debate over legislation to finance federal operations, which the Republican-controlled Congress must pass before Dec. 11 to keep the government open. Anti-abortion conservatives want Republican leaders to let the government shut down unless President Obama agrees to end reimbursements to Planned Parenthood for health services to low-income patients. (These services do not include abortions, because federal law bans payment for most abortions.)

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