Congress isn't in session this week, but that didn't stop anti-abortion protesters from blocking the hallway outside of the Capitol Hill office of House Speaker John Boehner.
Boehner (R-Ohio) wasn't there, and the six demonstrators were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly, the Associated Press
reported. The protest was meant to pressure Republican leaders to stick with the $317 million defunding of Planned Parenthood
that was part of the $61 billion spending reduction included last week in a House-approved budget bill.
That bill goes to the Senate next week with a March 4 deadline for passage to avert a shutdown of many government services -- barring enactment of another stopgap budget.
The protesters collared outside of Boehner's suite were said to be followers of anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, the AP and USA Today
reported. Boehner is an opponent of abortion, but the demonstrators fear the Planned Parenthood cuts will be bargained away in negotiations between the House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Terry, in an op-ed in the Washington Times
Tuesday, wrote that "we can prevail and defund Planned Parenthood in this continuing resolution" by attempting to save the cut in the Senate or in a joint conference committee. If all else fails, Terry said anti-abortion forces should try to persuade 30 to 35 GOP House members to hold the spending bill hostage by telling Boehner they won't vote for "any final continuing resolution ... if it restores funding to Planned Parenthood."
Federal law bars taxpayer money from being used to finance abortions. But the sponsor of the defunding amendment, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), argued that the government should not subsidize any activities of an abortion provider, such as Planned Parenthood. The group has used its federal money for family planning services, breast and cervical cancer testing, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, prenatal care and other services.
But the organization got in hot water over a video made by an anti-abortion group
that purports to show a Planned Parenthood employee in New Jersey giving inappropriate advice about health services for underage sex workers to a man posing as a pimp.