Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Tuesday that he thinks there are about 58 votes in the Senate to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood, including three or four Democrats, and that he hoped to be able to pick up the needed 60 votes in the coming days.
"We're going to work very hard" to get the 60 votes, Paul said on Fox News' "Hannity." "I think we may well get some Democrats who are going to say, 'Enough's enough, we can't keep funding a group that does this.'"
Paul said he was "horrified" by the recently released undercover videos that show high-level Planned Parenthood doctors and executives haggling over fetal organs and body parts. "When I think of ultrasound, I think of the pictures of my kids before they were born and the happiness we had. To imagine that doctors are using ultrasound to manipulate the body around, turn the body around to take body parts from a baby, it just — it sickens me," said Paul, an optometrist and Duke University School of Medicine graduate.
"There are many pro-choice Americans who are horrified by this, because they don't think of abortion as turning the baby around and harvesting baby parts, and showing kidneys and livers and lungs and hearts that are then being resold," said Paul. "The gruesomeness of this cannot be overstated."
Paul circulated a petition among the senators to get enough votes to bypass Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and force a vote to defund Planned Parenthood. He told Hannity that vote will take place before the August Senate recess. "I'm happy we're going have a vote in the Senate, and we're going to try to take away every last penny of taxpayer dollars," he said.
Paul said he worries that women who get abortions at Planned Parenthood may not know what they're signing up for at their clinics.
"Do you think when these young women are signing a consent for their procedure, they know that they're signing a consent that their baby's body parts will be sold?" asked Paul. "I'm guessing that when you go in to have an abortion, they're saying that this consent is for the procedure. And I really wonder if the women know that the baby's kidneys and liver and heart are going to be sold off."
Planned Parenthood received half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding during 2014, an analysis of the abortion giant's annual report shows. During that year, Planned Parenthood did 896 abortions per day, assuming a seven-day workweek, and only one adoption referral for every 149 abortion procedures.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said Sunday that the videos sought to "entrap doctors" who do "not profit at all from fetal tissue donation."
"We serve 2.5 million people every single year … the vast majority [of women] come to us for breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, birth control … half of our health centers are in medically underserved communities in America … that's actually what's at stake," Richards said. "This entire effort is a complete political smear campaign, in order to cut off funding for basic healthcare for women in America at Planned Parenthood."
Paul pushed back against those remarks, saying that "everything that's done at Planned Parenthood is [also] done at a community health center, except for abortion. There's no reason to have any federal funding going to Planned Parenthood."