Planned Parenthood Targets Toomey

Three things you should know about PP's new TV ad in Pennsylvania.

Planned Parenthood is running an ad attacking Sen. Pat Toomey, suggesting his vote to defund the organization could be the first step toward a costly government shutdown.

Toomey is one of four “vulnerable” senators in the 2016 election being targeted by the ads, The Hill reports.

“’First Pat Toomey voted to defund Planned Parenthood — risking healthcare for millions of women,’ the Pennsylvania ad says. ‘Now Republicans want to shut down the government — to block funding for Planned Parenthood. What would a shutdown mean for Pennsylvania?’

“The ad then shows a veteran wondering about getting benefits and a senior worrying about Social Security checks.”

Three things to know about this controversy:

• Toomey’s vote to remove federal funding from Planned Parenthood came after tapes emerged that purported to show organization officials negotiating with a buyer to harvest and sell the body parts of fetuses for medical research. Planned Parenthood’s defenders suggested the tapes were selectively edited to make the organization look bad — and add that federal funds don’t support its abortion activities anyway. (PP’s defenders further suggest that abortion is a very small portion of the organization’s activities.)

• The threat of a government shutdown to force defunding of Planned Parenthood seems only middlingly realistic. Conservative firebrands and Ted Cruz and Rand Paul reportedly favor the tactic, but Senate leadership and mainstream conservatives like Lindsey Graham, while not enamored of Planned Parenthood, don’t want to risk a full-blown government shutdown over it.

• Even if a shutdown happened, history suggests that Social Security recipients would still receive their monthly checks in timely fashion; That’s how it worked during two shutdowns in the 1990s and again during the Cruz-inspired government shutdown of 2013. (Remember that?) In fact, benefits continued to flow to a number of beneficiaries during the last government shutdown — neither party wanting to be the reason a retired veteran couldn’t get VA care while political battles raged.

But threats of a government shutdown may not be needed in this case. PoliticsPA reports: “Last week, Planned Parenthood released the results of a poll which found public perception was on their side. 69% of Pennsylvanians said they opposed defunding the health organization, and 42% said they would be much less likely to vote for a Senator who tried to defund the group.”