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Politics

California senators are worried about Planned Parenthood rhetoric

Sen. Barbara Boxer

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is suggesting congressional colleagues tone down rhetoric on Planned Parenthood.

(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

Friday’s shooting deaths of three people at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, and a series of arson incidents in recent months — including one in the Los Angeles area — have prompted California’s senators to urge colleagues to tone down partisan rhetoric on Planned Parenthood.

“Doctors, nurses and patients shouldn’t be terrorized or threatened. The poisonous rhetoric must stop,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) tweeted Monday.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) asked House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to shut down the special panel investigating Planned Parenthood, writing in a letter Monday that existing House committees could look into the organization.

“We should not and cannot continue this politically motivated committee targeting Planned Parenthood, which is already costing taxpayers and helping to create a dangerous climate for legal health care in America. Since 1977, there have been 11 murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings and 186 arsons against abortion clinics and providers,” she said, citing figures from the National Abortion Federation. “It is time to stop the witch hunt against Planned Parenthood, stop the demonizing rhetoric and disband this committee immediately.”

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But debate over federal funding for Planned Parenthood will probably continue in the coming weeks, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) told reporters Monday.

Republicans are expected to include language blocking federal funds to healthcare organizations that provide abortions in the omnibus spending bill. The deadline to approve a spending bill and avoid a government shutdown is Dec. 11.

The move comes after a series of videos was released over the summer by an antiabortion group showing Planned Parenthood employees negotiating the amount they would be given for removing and storing fetal tissue. The group, the Center for Medical Progress, says the videos are evidence the abortion provider sells human tissue, which is banned under federal law. Planned Parenthood says it was reimbursed for the cost of storing and preparing fetal tissue for medical research, which is allowed under federal law.

McCarthy didn’t commit to cutting federal funding through this measure, but said his personal preference is no federal money would go to such organizations.

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“I expect [there] to be a healthy debate on every place government spends money,” he said.

McCarthy dismissed the idea that rhetoric played a role in Friday’s attack.

“The thing that drove him most was he was a very evil, crazy man. If you want to talk rhetoric, I see rhetoric from all different issues if they want to make that argument,” McCarthy told reporters Monday.

sarah.wire@latimes.com

Follow @sarahdwire on Twitter.

Read more about the 55 members of California’s delegation at latimes.com/politics.

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