The BPCLC was active during last week's charged debate over contraception.
Our caucus' new co-chairs penned a joint op ed in today's Albany Times Union, thanking him for sticking to principle on contraceptive coverage. Our co-chairs wrote:
Both in its initial decision and in efforts late last week to accommodate religious concerns, the White House has held to a key principle: reproductive health care is legitimate health care, and all Americans have a right to accessible, affordable health care.
Reacting to the tremendous pressure on the president to exclude many women from this benefit, BPCLC members also sent an open letter to President Obama late last week, urging him to stand strong for contraceptive coverage.
The BPCLC is pleased to announce the election of its first leadership team! Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee, Senator Liz Krueger, Assemblymember Teresa Sayward, and Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins will lead the caucus as co-chairs in the coming legislative session.
In a startling reversal, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, under immense pressure over their controversial decision to defund a Planned Parenthood breast cancer screening program, reversed course and restored the funding to Planned Parenthood. USA Today reports:
Critics had charged that Komen had decided to terminate its funding of Planned Parenthood under pressure from anti-abortion activists — a charge Komen founder Nancy Brinker denied.
Push-back came swiftly from within its own organization and outside supporters. Komen affiliates in California and Oregon opposed the decision, and in Colorado, an Aspen-based Komen affiliate said it would continue providing grants to its local Planned Parenthood site.
Others said they would boycott Komen's ubiquitous local Race for the Cure running events, which have raised millions of dollars over the years. Nowhere was the outcry more intense than on the Internet, where the decision was blasted on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.
Sources in media reports continue to indicate the decision to defund Planned Parenthood was a political one, spurred by anti-choice actors within Komen:
A source with direct knowledge of decision-making at Komen's headquarters told the Associated Press that the grant-making criteria were adopted with the deliberate intention of targeting Planned Parenthood. The criteria's impact on Planned Parenthood and its status as the focus of government investigations were highlighted in a memo distributed to Komen affiliates in December.
According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions, a driving force behind the move was Karen Handel, who was hired by Komen last year as vice president for public policy after losing a campaign for governor in Georgia in which she stressed her anti-abortion views and frequently denounced Planned Parenthood.
An anti-women’s health campaign has repeatedly targeted and harassed the Susan G. Komen Foundation for its support of Planned Parenthood's provision of life-saving cancer screenings for low-income and underserved women. An Associated Press report today indicates Komen's announced withdrawal of its support for the Planned Parenthood screening program is a product of these attacks.
News like this makes it clear -- the war on reproductive rights across our country is expanding into a war against women's health and women themselves. This is the type of reckless, politically motivated attack that could cost women’s lives. The screening program, part of Planned Parenthood's commitment to promoting and improving women's health, literally provides a life-saving service, helping women identify breast cancer early and dramatically improve their chances of getting treatment in time and surviving.
That said, Planned Parenthood has stated they will not let Komen’s disappointing decision halt grant funding or get in the way of providing patients with the care they need. A national foundation has announced a gift to create a Planned Parenthood Breast Health Fund to provide immediate funding for the women whose breast cancer screenings and care has been jeopardized by Komen’s decision to withdraw its support.