Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
Eight Senate Democrats and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee launched an online petition Wednesday themed “One Million Strong for Women,” seeking to build support for women’s rights, which the petition’s sponsors say are under attack every day.
In a move timed less than a week after the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation reversed its decision to withhold grant money from Planned Parenthood, the petition declares, “Enough is enough. We may have won this latest round, but our opponents aren't going away.”
In this case, the so-called opponents include the Republican led House and the entire field of GOP presidential hopefuls. By signing the petition, supporters can spread the word with an email that begins simply, “After Planned Parenthood and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, it's clear that women's rights are under attack,” boiling down last week’s media storm into one sentence that never mentions breast cancer screenings or abortion funding.
That omission may be more strategic than it is subtle. For advocates on both sides of the abortion rights issue, efforts are underway to harness the energy sparked by the Komen / Planned Parenthood controversy.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), one of the petition’s key sponsors, emailed her supporters and invoked last week’s effective mobilization efforts – explicitly citing Komen and Planned Parenthood. But the email quickly pivots to what it calls the next battle: the Obama administration’s decision to make contraception more affordable under the new health care law.
Similar efforts are underway on the right. The Susan B. Anthony List, a political action committee that supports candidates who oppose abortion rights, along with the Alliance Defense Fund, released a report on Tuesday that it says details Planned Parenthood’s “systemic abuse of taypayer dollars.”
But in a call and response fashion, the head of left-leaning Emily’s List, which backs women, Democratic, candidates who support abortion rights, sent out its own mobilizing email today.
“We had a big victory when the Susan G. Komen foundation backed down from its decision to break ties with Planned Parenthood,” wrote Emily’s list president Stephanie Schriock, “. But the controversy over the birth control provisions in the Affordable Care Act show we have a long way to go before women's rights are no longer subject to debate.”