Over the past two weeks, two videos have been released showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue after abortions and even negotiating the prices charged for that tissue. Planned Parenthood condemned the scam for deceptively characterizing its handling fees to cover expenses, which are legal, as illegal profiteering. The release of these videos has stirred a renewed argument from Republican and Conservative parties who are aiming to stop all funding for Planned Parenthood. The argument for defunding is that tax dollars should not go towards an organization that engages in criminal activity. The opposing argument is that Planned Parenthood has not engaged in any criminal activity, nor does it receive federal money for performing abortions. The videos’ time of release coincides with Congress’ final work on developing the spending budget for the next fiscal year. Conservative members, led by Senator Ted Cruz, are calling this a “line in the sand” issue. They are willing to do whatever it takes to not have this organization be funded, including having the government shut down. However, all Republican members do not support this idea. Rand Paul, a republican presidential candidate, stated, “"I support any legislation that will defund Planned Parenthood. But I don't think you start out with your objective to shut down government.” There are several consequences for a government shutdown. The last time the government faced this issue, in fall of 2013, the following occurred:
- Federal employees were furloughed for a combined total of 6.6 million days - At its peak, about 850,000 individuals per day were furloughed
- The shutdown cost the Federal government billions of dollars - The payroll cost of furloughed employee salaries alone – that is, the lost productivity of furloughed workers – was $2.0 billion.
- The shutdown had significant negative effects on the economy - The Council of Economic Advisers has estimated that the combination of the shutdown and debt limit brinksmanship resulted in 120,000 fewer private sector jobs created during the first two weeks of October.
- The shutdown impacted millions of Americans who rely on critical programs and services - Hundreds of patients were prevented from enrolling in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health, almost $4 billion in tax refunds were delayed, and critical government-sponsored scientific research was put on hold.