Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate this week rejected legislation that would protect both women’s health and the lives of unborn children. The legislation (S.1881), introduced by Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, would deny the nation’s largest abortion provider taxpayer funding and shift it to local health organizations that provide medical care for women. The failure to proceed on this bill was a missed opportunity to protect Americans from complicity in morally unconscionable practices.

This issue arises once more after the release of several undercover videos that are successively more gruesome than the last. The videos of Planned Parenthood that have been released thus far reveal the breadth of institutionalized disregard for human life at its earliest stages.

At the basic level of decency, we’re repulsed by these videos because our consciences lead us to the inescapable conclusion that lives are being ended through exploitation. If individual organs and tissues can be harvested from aborted babies, it is impossible to make the case that this is not a human life being destroyed. Why does our country place more value on the parts and pieces of a life than the life as a whole?

In one video, Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services noted, “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung and liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part. I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

Another official in California, commented in a second video, “It’s been years since I talked about compensation, so let me just figure out what others are getting. If this is in the ballpark, it’s fine. If it’s still low, then we can bump it up. I want a Lamborghini.”

These words by two different officials in two different settings reflect a view that unborn children are nothing more than a commodity to be abused, and seemingly for material gain.

Critics contend the videos are heavily edited; yet the videos have been released in their entirety, and transcripts of the full conversations have been provided. It is telling that despite full access to what was discussed, these critics have not been able to justify the grotesque practices being described, nor the inappropriate tone adopted in regard to selling the tissues and organs of an unborn child.

This isn’t news – we’ve long known about the hundreds of thousands of abortions Planned Parenthood performs each year. If we only divert our eyes, as the critics would have us do, we can avoid what’s obscene and uncomfortable. But, light must be shed on an organization that destroys human lives while hiding behind a veil of women’s health services. We cannot allow atrocities such as this to be swept under the rug because of the power Planned Parenthood wields.

In fact in Kansas, there are only two Planned Parenthood facilities, but there are 50 community health centers. Women would actually have more access to health care services if the money is redistributed to community health centers and other providers. Hard working Americans deserve to have their tax dollars going toward local community centers and county health departments – places that value saving lives instead of destroying them.

Women deserve affordable, quality health care, and that care is already being provided by a number of organizations that have nothing to do with abortion. We can and should support these health providers, and we can and should protect the unborn. S. 1881 would be a significant step in accomplishing both goals, and I believe it should have passed the Senate with broad support.

I remain hopeful for a solution that will advance the life and health of both mother and child. In fact, as science improves our understanding of the unborn and the practices of abortion providers are further exposed, I view such a solution as inevitable. Unfortunately, that time has not yet come; however, I will remain focused on this goal, and I encourage my colleagues to do the same.