Bishop Robert Deeley, the leader of Maine’s 193,000 Catholics, is calling on Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, citing recent undercover videos released by an anti-abortion group.

“The videos are shocking,” Deeley wrote in a statement released Thursday. “Our elected officials should act to cease funding Planned Parenthood.”

Deeley’s comments came a day after a congressional hearing on Planned Parenthood’s tissue-donation program.

Democrats said the investigation by the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee was just the latest in a decades-long effort to curtail abortion rights and was based on deceptively edited videos that show no evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.

Two months ago, a small group of anti-abortion activists began releasing videos it furtively recorded. Republicans and conservatives say those videos show Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue for profit and violating other federal prohibitions.

Planned Parenthood and its Democratic defenders say there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

“I call on those who distribute the resources from the taxes we all pay to examine this issue and remove any funding which supports such evil as the harvesting of organs from an unborn child,” Deeley wrote.

Planned Parenthood provides contraception, tests for sexually transmitted diseases and abortions in clinics across the country. It receives more than $500 million each year from federal and state governments, more than one-third of its overall $1.3 billion annual budget.

Numerous Republicans want to end federal payments to Planned Parenthood. Democrats have blocked a Senate effort to do that, and Republican leaders are hoping to head off conservatives demanding that Congress not fund federal agencies starting Oct. 1 unless Planned Parenthood’s money is terminated – a move that would shut down the government.

In a closed meeting of House Republicans, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, expressed support for tightening legal curbs on fetal tissue sales and cutting off Planned Parenthood’s money, said one Republican who described the private session on condition of anonymity.

Boehner said Planned Parenthood could continue fetal tissue sales even if its federal money was blocked, and he expressed concern that a shutdown would damage the anti-abortion cause.

Federal funds are prohibited from being used for abortion under the Hyde Amendment of 1977.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Staff Writer Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]

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