Franklin Graham quits the GOP over Planned Parenthood funding

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Source: Religion News Service

(RNS) Evangelist Franklin Graham has announced he is abandoning the Republican Party in disgust over the move by the GOP-led Congress last week to pass a budget that Graham said was “wasteful” and provided funding for Planned Parenthood, which he compared to the Nazis.

Graham has previously said he has no faith in any political party, but his apparent renunciation of his Republican affiliation is an indication of anger on the right and the strong interest many disaffected evangelicals have shown in populist outsiders such as Donald Trump.

Graham himself has expressed admiration for Trump, the surprise front-runner in the Republican presidential field, and has voiced support for some of Trump’s more controversial positions — such as his call to ban Muslims from the U.S. — which have drawn condemnation from more mainstream evangelical leaders.

The federal government provides $528 million in funding for Planned Parenthood — about 40 percent of the organization’s annual budget — primarily through payments to Medicaid for health services for low-income Americans. Federal law prohibits funding of most abortions, and Planned Parenthood separates federal taxpayer dollars from those used to provide abortions.

Social conservatives have long fought to strip taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood, and after the release of a series of undercover videos by anti-abortion activists earlier this year, those calls ramped up to a fever pitch.

Activists said the undercover videos show Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of fetal organs — which they called “baby parts” — for profit to medical researchers; making money off such organs or tissue could be illegal and unethical. Planned Parenthood denied that it was profiting from the sale and said it was quitting the practice.

The Planned Parenthood logo is pictured outside a clinic in Boston. The organization's leader defended it before Congress on Sept. 29, 2015. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

In the wake of that white-hot controversy, there was wide expectation that with Republicans in control of both the House and Senate, Congress would eliminate funding for 2016. Some conservatives in the GOP threatened to shut down the government if that wasn’t done.

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