House Democrats have joined Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other Republican presidential candidates in using the controversy over Planned Parenthood's sale of fetal tissue to boost their own campaign committee's bottom line.
In a fundraising email sent Thursday night and labeled "urgent," the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee takes Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to task for threatening to shut down the government over Republicans' efforts to stop subsidizing Planned Parenthood with taxpayer dollars.
"Unbelievable. Ted Cruz just announced a plan to shut down the government unless Planned Parenthood's funding is eliminated," the email reads. "And the plan is rapidly gaining steam – in the past day, 18 House Republicans have already signed on."
"Right now, Democratic supporters need to get $175,000 dollars in the door to make this RADICAL tactic BACKFIRE," it states. "We need to show the Republicans that they can't shut down the government and get their way."
The email goes on to ask its recipients for anywhere from $5 to $250 or an unspecified larger amount and defends Planed Parenthood as an organization that "provides millions of women in need with health care every year" – from everything from "lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings to basic preventative care."
"We MUST act to end the Republican assault on women's health and abortion rights," the email concludes. "Please make a contribution to hold the Republicans accountable."
Several Republicans running for president including Cruz, as well as Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky, also sent fundraising emails highlighting the Planned Parenthood controversy.
Late last week Cruz sent an email to supporters asking for donations and "emergency" contributions of $35, $50 or more. The email also conducted an informal "flash poll" asking its recipients, "Do you support Planned Parenthood or do you support Life?"
Rubio's missive asks supporters to throw their support to "Marco in standing for life."
"Will you chip in a few bucks now?" the email then asks.
Paul's fundraising pitch is more subtle. His website says it's "critical for our Republican Party to nominate a pro-life candidate for president in 2016. He then asks supporters to sign a petition demanding a vote to defund Planned Parenthood.
If users sign it, they are directed to his donation page, which asks for contact information.
The DCCC fundraising email does not mention the series of undercover sting videos revealing details about Planned Parenthood's sale of harvested organs from aborted fetuses.
Planned Parenthood argues that the videos are heavily edited and says the group is not profiting from facilitating fetal tissue donation for medical research, which is allowed under law as long as no entity is making money from the exchanges.
But the videos, which have featured undercover bartering for fetal organs and tissue, and the controversy they have stirred are quickly becoming a campaign issue for both Democrats and Republicans.
The anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress produced four videos revealing Planned Parenthood executives and doctors meeting over lunch with activists posing as representatives of a company that handles fetal tissue donations, and the conservative group says there are more videos to come.
The House passed a bill to stop taxpayer dollars from flowing to Planned Parenthood, and the Senate GOP leaders are fast-tracking a bill to cut federal funding for the group and redirect the funds to other women's health organizations.
But Cruz has said that effort does not go far enough and Republicans should do everything they can to eliminate all federal money for the group — and putting Democrats to the test on the issue by threatening to shut down the government this fall over the issue.
Eighteen House Republicans have joined Cruz's efforts saying they "cannot and will not support any funding resolution … that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood."
Cruz is urging Republicans to take as hard a stance as possible over the Planned Parenthood funding issue by using the same strategy he tried to use in attempting to defund Obamacare in 2013. He wants to block funding for the organization in a broad, catch-all spending bill that must pass the government by Sept. 30 or risk a shut down.