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Progressive legislative caucus blasts Komen decision

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 3, 2012 - Thirty-four members of the Missouri General Assembly's bipartisan Progressive Caucus have asked the national Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation "to reconsider their decision to cut cancer-screening funding to Planned Parenthood."

The group has signed letters sent to the foundation and to its chief executive, Nancy Brinker.

("The foundation's decision to cut funding for breast cancer prevention, screening, and education at Planned Parenthood health centers will affect hundreds of thousands of women," said State Rep. Stacey Newman, D-Richmond Heights and chair of the caucus.

The caucus calls the Komen decision "simply wrong."

The caucus is siding with more than 50 members of Congress who are defending Planned Parenthood, citing its health-care programs for hundreds of thousands of women nationally "who would otherwise have no treatment."

The Komen foundation had been making grants of at least $700,000 annually to Planned Parenthood for health services and education. The foundation is dropping the agency because of a congressional investigation into its activities.

No Planned Parenthood operation in Missouri receives Komen grants.

Said Newman: "So many women, particularly low income and students, rely on these services. This is about health and preventing cancer, not a political agenda. "We all know many women who have relied on Planned Parenthood for screenings or other well-woman exams, which have unexpectedly detected early stages of cancer. Many lives have been saved because of access to Planned Parenthood preventive services."

Newman noted that the Progressive Caucus recently introduced a joint resolution in the Missouri House in favor of "family planning and wellness services which Missouri women depend on for their reproductive health."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.