When news broke that the Komen Race for the Cure Foundation was withdrawing support from Planned Parenthood for breast health services for women, Women's Voices president Mary Clemons sent the following letter decrying the funding cut and the political nature of the decision. After the decision was reversed, a final paragraph was added to the end of the letter. Below is the letter from Women's Voices:
February 3, 2012
Elizabeth Thompson, President
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250 Dallas, TX 75244
Dear Ms. Thompson:
Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice, an organization reaching over 500 women primarily in the St. Louis area, has since its inception in 2005 supported the rights of women to make their own decisions regarding reproductive health, has taken a position to support the use of embryonic stem cells for life saving cures, and believes in quality affordable health care for all. The recent decision of the Susan G. Komen Foundation to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood and the refusal to fund embryonic cell research adversely affects the health care of all women. Grants to Planned Parenthood affiliates provided needed services for breast health to women of limited means and work on embryonic stem cells could result in new treatment possibilities for women with breast cancer. Because of our positions on these issues Women's Voices must protest your actions.
The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure has been a major force in St. Louis and we are saddened and hurt that your national office has, no matter how you have defined it, chosen to bow to pressure from groups that would deny women the right to choose and deny funds to reputable universities and hospitals to conduct needed research.
One of our members who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 37 and who died January 30, 2010 while working for passage of health care reform and while under-insured and while denied needed medical services from her insurer, was a member of the Susan G. Komen St. Louis Research Advocacy Committee. Melanie Shouse was an inspiration to our organization and to President Barack Obama who told her story in several speeches on the need for health care reform. Women's Voices feels that your organization has turned its back on women like Melanie who could benefit from your funding.
It is with great sorrow that in addition to mourning the loss of Melanie Shouse, we also mourn the politicization of The Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Cc: Helen Chesnut, Executive Director, Susan G. Komen- St. Louis Affiliate
Cecile Richards, President Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Paula Gianino, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood, St. Louis
Carl and Marianne Shouse
This enclosed letter was ready to send when the statement was issued saying funding to Planned Parenthood would be restored. Many of us are concerned that your statement gives room to reject future Planned Parenthood grant applications. And we remain concerned about your claim that politics does not influence your decisions. Because we want you to understand our position on Planned Parenthood and embryonic stem cell research, we are sending our original letter.
A Bad Idea In 2006; A Bad Idea Today
One of the first issues that Women's Voices tackled when the organization was formed in 2005 was the proposed Voter ID law. Missouri legislators had proposed a law that would require all voters to present a state-issued photo ID before they could cast a ballot.
We considered this to be a "poll tax in disguise," a measure that would disenfranchise thousands of elderly, disabled, low-income Missourians. Women's Voices filed a friend of the court brief in opposition to this law, and the state Supreme Court later ruled it to be unconstitutional.
Now, in 2012, the idea is back. And we are fighting back.
Below is a letter that Women's Voices President Mary Clemons sent to members of the Senate Financial and Government Organizations and Elections Committee on Jan. 17. A version of this letter was also printed by three major newspapers in the state.
January 16, 2012
I will be unable to attend the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee hearing on SB442 tomorrow, January 17th but want to make you and the committee members aware of my views and the position taken by Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice, an organization reaching over 550 women.
Missouri's motto is The Show Me State. When I consider those words I take them to mean that Missourians insist on knowing the facts. I find no facts that warrant voter photo ID legislation.
The fact is that most voter fraud prosecutions involve eligibility or improper registrations and would not be prevented by having a photo ID requirement.
The fact is that a restrictive photo ID law would prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots at the polls. Securing the proper documents to apply for a state issued photo ID would be burdensome and sometimes impossible to obtain. Currently there are 230,000 Missourians registered to vote who would be turned away if this legislation is enacted.
The fact is that a photo ID bill would be costly - $20 million dollars would be spent to implement this unnecessary legislation.
Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice had an amicus brief in the 2006 Missouri Supreme Court Case which upheld by a vote of 6-1 that the legislation passed in 2006 was an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote. We will continue to oppose any attempt to restrict voter rights.
Let's not make Missouri a Show Me Your Photo ID state. Let's keep the intent of our motto. Let's be the Show Me The Facts state.
Mary Clemons, president, Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice
Here's a Good Idea!
For the past year members of Women's Voices have advocated for passage of the "Streamlined Sales Tax" in Missouri. Sometimes called the "Mainstreet Fairness Act," this proposal would require vendors who sell goods and products on-line to collect sales taxes and remit them to the state.
Recently, State Representatives Doug Funderburk and Margo McNeil introduced HB1356, which would require Missouri to join other states in an effort to level the playing field for bricks-and-mortar stores. Below is the text of a letter from Women's Voices to the legislators in support of their efforts:
Dear Representatives Funderburk and McNeil,
Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice, an organization that reaches over 550 women, primarily in the St. Louis area, is pleased that you have introduced HB1356 to "require the Director of the Department of Revenue to enter into the multistate Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement and the department to implement the compliance provisions."
Women's Voices has taken a position (February, 2011) supporting Missouri's compliance with the streamlined sales and use tax agreement and will work to see that this legislation moves forward to level the playing field for our Missouri retailers and increase the revenues collected for our state.
Respectfully, Mary Clemons, president, Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice