10:12 pm Feb. 3, 2012
Councilwoman Letitia James and some colleagues gathered Friday on the steps of City Hall to “celebrate” the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s reversal of a decision to stop giving money to Planned Parenthood.
Earlier this week the Komen foundation announced it would cut funding for Planned Parenthood on the basis of the company's eligibility criteria, which preclude it from supporting organizations that are under investigation. An investigation of the allocation of funds of Planned Parenthood was proposed by Florida congressman Cliff Stearns, a conservative Republican, but was never carried out.
In an event originally scheduled to protest the motion, the councilmembers instead gathered to celebrate, and to reiterate what they said was the importance of leaving politics out of health care.
James said she still maintains one concern: “The question is whether or not Planned Parenthood will be eligible in the future. This is not a promise.”
She related her personal relation to women's health issues: “All of our lives have been touched by breast cancer. My mother had breast cancer, my grandmother has breast cancer. When I needed information I went to the website of Planned Parenthood. For me this is personal. For me we cannot involve politics and use politics to make any decisions.”
City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito also attested to the importance of Planned Parenthood, and took one last jab at Komen.
“The reality is that there are reactionary elements in this country that continue to dominate and try to dominate the reproductive services for women, health care services for women, and this is going to happen time and again,” she said. “So we cannot let our guard down. We must continue to be vigilant, because the reality is that some of these people that are in this organization did politicize the health care of women.”
The reversal of Komen’s decision had come after protests online and in the media, amplified by a pledge by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to make good part of the Komen money to Planned Parenthood out of his own personal funds.
Asked at the end of the small, late-afternoon press conference what the lasting effects would be of the Komen episode, James said it was testament to “the power of the social media.”
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