Washington: The White House on Friday threatened to veto any Republican budget plan that strips funding from abortion provider Planned Parenthood, deepening an election-tinged political culture war.
Spokesman Josh Earnest vowed any "ideologically driven" fiscal plan that defunds the women`s health organization is "certainly something that would draw a presidential veto."
Planned Parenthood has long been the bete noire of conservative activists.
One opposition group recently released undercover videos that purported to show Planned Parenthood staff offering to sell fetal tissue.
The White House expressed skepticism that the footage would stand up to scrutiny.
"We have seen this kind of tactic be attempted by other extremist organizations that have an ideological agenda," said Earnest.
"They marshaled what purported to be convincing and damning evidence that later did not prove to hold up to much scrutiny."
Supporters of the 99-year-old group say it plays a vital role in safeguarding women`s reproductive rights, in the face of sometimes violent attacks on abortion facilities.
This most recent scuffle has been turbo charged by political maneuvering ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
Staunchly conservative Republicans -- keen to stand out in a crowded field of potential presidential candidates -- have actively embraced the battle.
Among them is US Senator Ted Cruz, who has indicated he would be willing to precipitate a federal government shutdown in order to close the organization.
With the first Republican debate scheduled for next week, his call may yet be echoed by other candidates.
Polling organization Gallup reported that 50 percent of Americans describe themselves as "pro-choice" and 44 percent "pro-life," illustrating the sharp national divide on the issue.