Bernie Sanders returns from surgery to smack down GOP 'witch hunt' on Planned Parenthood
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) addresses the Senate on Dec. 1, 2015. [C-SPAN]

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) criticized his Republican colleagues on Tuesday for attacking Planned Parenthood while denouncing what he described as a pointless vote.

"Now is not the time to continue a witch hunt for an organization that provides critical health care services, from reproductive health care to cancer screenings and preventative services to millions of women," Sanders said on the Senate floor. "No one is forced to seek care at Planned Parenthood. It is a choice -- a choice millions of women make freely and proudly."

The Democratic presidential candidate made mention of the recent attack against a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado, noting that the group had already been the subject of "vicious and unsubstantiated statements." Instead of trying to defund it, he said, he hoped that legislators would move to expand its services.

"It is also my sincere hope that people throughout this country -- including my colleagues here in the Senate and across the Capitol in the House -- understand that bitter, vitriolic rhetoric can have serious, unintended consequences," Sanders said.

The senator, who made his remarks a day after undergoing hernia surgery, also denounced the GOP's efforts to push a bill through that would not only defund Planned Parenthood, but gut the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare," knowing that President Barack Obama would probably veto it.

"This is just another reason why the American people have so little respect for the Congress," Sanders said.

Watch Sanders' remarks, as aired on C-SPAN on Tuesday, below.