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Planned Parenthood: 'Political bullies' have been put on alert

February 3, 2012 | 12:14 pm

Cecile_Richards_300Susan G. Komen For the Cure's reversal of its decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood is being called -- in some corners -- a "watershed" moment that sends a powerful election-year message: "Political bullies" can no longer politicize a woman's access to healthcare.

That's what Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said during a media conference call Friday. The call centered on the nonprofit healthcare organization's response to Komen's decision to back down on the matter after days of being cast in an overwhelmingly negative light.

The issue struck a chord with many Americans, Richards said, adding that the public has made it clear that it will no longer stand for "political bullying." "I think folks are just saying 'enough,'" she said.

"Bullying and trying to make political women's access to healthcare is just a losing political strategy," she said.

For Planned Parenthood, Komen's original move -- which meant a loss of roughly $500,000 to $700,000 in funding for breast care services offered through the organization -- turned into a windfall. Many saw the stripped funding as the work of conservatives who oppose Planned Parenthood because it provides a variety of women's reproductive health services, including abortions.

The backlash was immediate, with many people opening their wallets in support of Planned Parenthood. The organization took in $3 million in donations in just a few days, but moreover found itself on the winning end of a social media campaign that left the Komen foundation badly bruised.

"I think there is a message for people running for office, or in office," Richards said: "'Women's health is not a political issue."

"I do think this is a watershed moment," she added. She said she hopes this has raised enough awareness that it will result in the expansion of women's healthcare services. "I think it's going to be interesting in how this leads us forward."

She said that people want politicians to "focus on solving problems, judging less and caring more. I think this is what this is about."

Although some people have questioned the wording of Komen's reversal statement, which was posted on the Komen website, and whether it means a full refund of grant money, Richards said she has no reason to think otherwise. "I take them at their word that this is behind us."

She said she learned the reversal news Friday just like most Americans -- it was forwarded to her, online. She said she has called the Komen foundation, but had not yet spoken to anyone.

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch


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Photo: Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards at a media event last month in New York City. Credit: Mike Coppola / Getty Images