Congress won’t act without a crisis — and its members will invent one if they have to.

This month, it’s an invented crisis about abortion rights and funding for Planned Parenthood that has been trumped up by some congressional Republicans, who are hoping to use a potential shutdown of the government as leverage to force changes in federal law that they can’t achieve through the democratic process.

This is a dangerous game that puts people’s lives at risk. It’s time for responsible leadership to put an end to this kind of maneuvering. We hope Maine Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent, will vote against these efforts to undermine women’s reproductive health rights and speak out against the politics of manufactured crisis.

For months, Planned Parenthood has been under relentless political attack by anti-abortion activists, who created and distributed highly edited videos that purport to prove that the organization sells fetal body parts for profit, giving it an incentive to perform more abortions. The videos show nothing of the sort.

Planned Parenthood has clinics in every state, but only two in which fetal tissue is donated to medical research. The only money that changes hands is reimbursement of costs. The only tissue available comes from abortions that would have happened anyway.

This is not a crime. It’s not even unethical medicine. And it is not representative of the work that Planned Parenthood does, supplying medical care and birth control for mostly low-income women.

This week, the Senate will vote on a federal ban on all abortions after 20 weeks. Unless you are opposed to all abortions under any circumstances regardless of the consequences, a late-term abortion ban raises complicated medical and ethical questions.

Only 1 percent of abortions take place after 21 weeks of pregnancy, and they almost always involve serious birth defects that would result in risks to the mother’s health. Those questions will not even be addressed before this vote, however, because Senate leaders have arranged to have the bill go straight to the floor without going through the committee process.

This is a strategy aimed at placating anti-abortion senators, including Texas’ Ted Cruz, who want to force the government to run out of money until funding for Planned Parenthood is stripped out of the budget. But judging from last week’s Republican presidential debate, anything short of the complete defunding of Planned Parenthood will not be enough, even if it means that the government shuts down.

These issues do not belong at the top of the nation’s agenda. The people who are trying to put them there don’t have the votes to overcome a filibuster, and even if they did, they would not have the votes necessary to override the president’s promised vetoes. The only way they can achieve their goal would be to cause so much economic pain to the nation that all their opponents just give up.

The fact that threats of government shutdown and near-default have become an annual event since the rise of the tea party Congress in 2010 does not make this kind of politics acceptable.

We hope Maine’s senators will vote against Planned Parenthood defunding and the 20-week abortion ban. And we hope they will use their influence to focus the government on real problems, not manufactured ones.

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