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Women's Health Providers Face Coordinated Assault in Cyberspace and on Capitol Hill

The websites for two major reproductive health groups were down on Thursday after alleged cyberattacks

An array of thank you cards sent to Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. Tens of thousands of supporters have sent such cards to say they #StandWithPlannedParenthood. (Photo: Planned Parenthood Action/Facebook)

The coordinated assault on women's healthcare providers continued on Thursday, as the websites for two major reproductive health groups—Planned Parenthood and the National Network of Abortion Funds—were shut down following alleged cyberattacks.

Planned Parenthood's website was reportedly hacked on Wednesday afternoon, in what the organization's vice-president described as a "wide scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, a hacker tactic to overwhelm websites with massive amounts of traffic to block any legitimate traffic from getting in." The reproductive health provider then decided to keep its site temporarily offline "in order to more fully protect our websites from these extremist attacks."

On Thursday, the National Network of Abortion Funds—an umbrella organization for groups that help low-income women pay for abortions—reported that it had experienced a similar attack.

Also Thursday, anti-abortion activists known as the Center for Medical Progress released a fourth undercover video of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue donation.

The video release follows action on Tuesday by a California judge to ban the Center for Medical Progress from releasing any more video of its conversations with a separate tissue procurement company in that state—the first legal response to the extensive sting operation, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. 

And in Washington, D.C., 18 House conservatives told GOP leaders on Thursday that they will not support any measure to fund the government if it continues to fund Planned Parenthood—effectively threatening to shut down the government over the debacle.

"We must act to fully defund Planned Parenthood," the lawmakers wrote in a letter obtained by The Hill. "Please know that we cannot and will not support any funding resolution—an appropriations bill, an omnibus package, a continuing resolution, or otherwise—that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood, including mandatory funding streams."

As of Wednesday evening, the House is on recess until early September. The Senate, meanwhile, could vote Monday on a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Wednesday.

Not all Republicans are succumbing to the smear campaign. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), for example, indicated Wednesday she would likely not support a defunding bill, noting that Planned Parenthood is the primary provider of women's services in her state.

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