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Pennsylvania Commission for Women Rallies Against Senate Budget Proposal

Friday, September 18, 2009 General News J E 4
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Leaders Denounce Plan as Harmful to Women and Children

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Commission for Women today hosted a rally at the state Capitol to oppose devastating budget cuts proposed by the Senate that would endanger critical services for women and their families and end the agency's 35 years of advocacy for women and girls.

"As recently as 2002, the Institute for Women's Policy Research ranked Pennsylvania as one of the 10 worst states for women, and this year's proposed budget cuts aimed at women and children -- paired with the complete elimination of the commission -- are a chilling reminder of how vulnerable the women of Pennsylvania are," said commission Executive Director Leslie Stiles. "While some legislators do support the commission and the programs we provide for more than six million Pennsylvania women, we fear there is not enough support to prevent erasing decades of progress in regards to the equal treatment and support of women."

The Senate budget proposal would reduce or eliminate funding for the following services:

The Governor's Office of Health Care Reform, the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Organization for Women (Pennsylvania NOW, Inc.), Maternity Care Coalition, Women's Law Project, PathWays PA, and MidPenn Legal Services joined the rally. Leaders urged citizens to discuss with legislators their concerns about the impact of the Senate's proposed funding cuts.

"According to a 2007 study by the National Women's Law Center, Pennsylvania ranked a lowly 32nd out of the 50 states and District of Columbia based on the overall status of women's health," said Governor's Office of Health Care Reform Director Ann Torregrossa. "The Senate's proposed elimination of critical services for women and deep cuts to programs put women's health and the health of their children at risk, and women's organizations across the state are deeply concerned."

"All people in Pennsylvania deserve the opportunity to enjoy a safe and healthy life with access to services that help them to educate, feed, clothe, and nurture their families, but this budget does none of this for our most vulnerable women and children," said Joanne Tosti-Vasey, President of Pennsylvania NOW, Inc. "Low-income women may no longer have access to breast and cervical cancer screening that could save their lives, fewer programs for accessible housing will place more of our women and children on the streets, and without the advocacy work from the Commission for Women, there will be no oversight group to help ensure that critical services and programs for these underserved populations are well-served by the state."

For the past 35 years, the Pennsylvania Commission for Women has worked to identify and advance the diverse needs and interests of Pennsylvania women and girls; to inform, educate and advocate for its constituents; and to provide opportunities to empower women and girls to reach their highest potential.

-- Child care services -- Child care assistance -- Breast and cervical cancer screening -- Public library subsidy -- 44 percent cut from the Governor's budget proposal -- Accessible housing -- 50 percent cut -- Teen pregnancy and parenthood education -- 100 percent cut -- Pennsylvania Commission for Women -- 100 percent cut -- Governor's Office of Health Care Reform -- 100 percent cut

SOURCE Pennsylvania Commission for Women
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