Planned Parenthood supporters rally in Tampa

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Barbara A. Zdravecky, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, told the audience of more than 200 people at Maestro's restaurant inside the Straz Center that she had been inundated by e-mails and voices of suppor. She said she had spoken with a local Komen volunteer coordinator who was "very concerned" about the acrimonious situation.

She asked the audience members to call Komen — not to protest, but to ask the organization to reconsider its decision to stop the funding. "We should not be pitted against each other in raising money and providing services," she said.

The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg is reporting that the rule about de-funding any group under investigation was an "excuse" to cut off Planned Parenthood. He writes that the decision was driven by Komen's new senior vice-president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is "pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood."

The keynote speech was given by Dr. Charles Mahan, dean and professor emeritus in the College of Public Health at USF. His irreverent address riffed on all the things that make him mad, beginning with Ozzie Osbourne, Snooki and the Kardashian sisters. "I'm mad because their mothers should have had better access to birth control."

He said he was also mad that Florida ranked third in the country in the number of children lacking health care, saying he'd like to ask state legislators to tell him about the children they don't want to insure.

Barbara Zdravecky praised the elected officials at the lunch, who included Tampa City Council members Yolie Capin, Lisa Montelione and Harry Cohen. Cohen told CL, "I think the war on women's health in this country is appalling, and I think education and service availability are bedrock values that people ought to support. Planned Parenthood does an excellent job of educating and providing services to people who otherwise wouldn't get them."

Zdravecky told audience members that she had received a call Thursday morning from an unnamed benefactor who promised to write a $10,000 check if it could be matched at the luncheon. Though a final tally has not been made available to CL yet, we were told by an official with Planned Parenthood that the $10,000 match had been made, and exceeded.

  • Harry Cohen, John Dingfelder, CJo Ford, Yolie Capin & Lisa Montelione at the Planned Parenthood Luncheon in Tampa

As the controversy continues over the decision by the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation to cut its support for Planned Parenthood, the Tampa Bay area's leading Planned Parenthood chapter held its annual fundraising luncheon in Tampa on Thursday and raised over $10,000 as a direct rebuke to Komen's decision.

Planned Parenthood has used the approximately $600,000 annual contribution from Komen, the world's leading breast-cancer research advocacy group, to pay for breast-screenings exam for poor women. Komen's decision to cut funding from PP has angered the pro-choice community, including some who have financially supported both groups.

Former Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena said she has never given that much funding to Susan G. Komen, but now says she won't give anymore. "I was profoundly disappointed. I thought it was off base," she said of the controversial decision.

The Foundation based its decision on a new rule that prohibits funding of any group under formal investigation by a government body. Ocala-area Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns has opened a federal inquiry into Planned Parenthood, saying he is trying to learn whether the group used federal funds to provide abortions.

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