Murray, Cantwell urge Komen to reconsider on Planned Parenthood

By:  Kyung M. Song
Source: The Seattle Times

WASHINGTON -- Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell added their voices to the uproar over a decision by Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation to withdraw its funding for Planned Parenthood, signing a letter Thursday with two dozen of their Senate colleagues urging Komen to put women's health over politics.

Komen, a major breast cancer advocacy group, said it will pull its annual grant to Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Komen leaders feared that an on-going Republican-led congressional probe of Planned Parenthood would scare away potential donors. Komen's grant, which average about $700,000 a year, paid for breast- cancer screening.

In the letter, the senators call Komen's decision disappointing and urged it to reconsider.

"We earnestly hope that you will put women’s health before partisan politics and reconsider this decision for the sake of the women who depend on both your organizations for access to the health care they need," they wrote.

It was signed by 25 of the 51 Senate Democrats plus Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent of Vermont.

Komen's decision sparked a huge controversy. Pro-life supporters lauded the move, while pro-choice advocates denounced the foundation for caving into political pressure. On Thursday, Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire Republican mayor of New York City, said he would donate $250,000 to Planned Parenthood to make up the shortfall.

Last year, House Republicans voted to strip funding for Planned Parenthood in an attempt to prevent it from providing abortions. Planned Parenthood does not use federal money for abortions, which make up a tiny fraction of the array of health services it provides. The defunding measure went nowhere in the Senate.

This is the second time in two months that Murray and Cantwell have spoken out on reproductive-rights issues. In December, they and 12 other Senate Democrats criticized the Obama administration's decision to override the Food and Drug Administration and block over-the-counter sales of Plan B "morning after" contraceptive to girls 16 and younger.