A message for Obama in Komen decision?


(Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 10,000 people donated to the family planning group in some way, according to President Cecile Richards. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged a $250,000 matching gift to the group.

While the foundation gave itself room to reject future grant applications from Planned Parenthood, the decision is a clear sign that outrage from pro-choice supporters left Komen spooked.

Should Obama be spooked too?

The president angered many pro-choice constituents with his decision to keep the emergency contraceptive Plan B off drugstore shelves.

More recently, Obama sided with women’s groups over Catholic bishops, refusing to exempt church-affiliated employers from covering birth control.

Of course, there are major differences here. Komen’s constituency is made up of people for whom women’s health issues are a primary concern. Obama’s constituency is much broader — in rejecting Catholic calls for a birth-control exemption, some argue he risks losing liberal Catholic support.

In 2008, 70.4 million women voted — 10 million more women than men. Obama won women by 13 points. In 2010 House race, women were evenly split.

While abortion is not a make-or-break issue for most female voters, access to contraception could prove more potent.

“I think this is a watershed moment with women and men saying we’re not going to stand by and let right-wing groups limit access to health care,” Richards told reporters on a conference call, adding that the Obama administration had “done yeomans’ work” expanding access to health care for women.

The backlash against Komen shows that Planned Parenthood has ardent defenders. It’s something administration officials will likely keep in mind the next time they are caught between competing interests on women’s health.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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