The Brief: Top Texas News for Feb. 3, 2012

The Big Conversation:

Planned Parenthood vs. Susan G. Komen — the political debate with roots in Texas — has sparked a furious public outcry.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Dallas-based breast cancer prevention group, on Thursday faced a wave of intense national criticism for its decision to drop its financial support of Planned Parenthood — a move that will block the family-planning organization from receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, primarily for breast exams.

On Thursday, as Nancy Brinker, the CEO and founder of Komen, maintained that her organization had ended its relationship with Planned Parenthood because of a new policy banning grants to groups under federal investigation, not because of political pressure, 26 senators urged the foundation to reconsider its decision. And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would donate $250,000 to the family-planning organization to make up for a large part of the missing funds.

The roiling controversy also touched off an impassioned social media campaign against Komen and in support of Planned Parenthood, demonstrating again — two weeks after mass online protests helped derail anti-piracy legislation — "how social media can change the national conversation with head-snapping speed," The New York Times notes. (Find Thanh Tan's social media play-by-play of the controversy here.)

 

Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas have witnessed similar outpourings of support. "The email, the Facebook and the phone has not stopped ringing," Sarah Wheat, the interim co-CEO of the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Austin, told the Austin American-Statesman. "It's all we can do to respond to all of the calls. It's really affected people deeply."

Planned Parenthood has received $400,000 in donations from 6,000 individuals nationally, as well as $250,000 from a family foundation in Dallas, since Tuesday, The Associated Press reports.

Brinker said donations to Komen had increased, too. But her defense of the organization's decision was complicated on Thursday by comments from John D. Raffaelli, a Komen board member, who told the Times that the group had edited its grant process with the specific intention of dropping Planned Parenthood.

Culled:

  • Houston Democrat Jason Gibson, the president of the Houston Trial Lawyers Association, on Thursday dropped out of the race for U.S. Senate and endorsed Paul Sadler, the former state representative of Henderson. Gibson said the AFL-CIO's recent endorsement of Sadler influenced his decision. "This was my first time seeking elected office, and I knew that as an outsider, I’d be up against others with institutional advantages," he said in a statement. "My heart and my upbringing are with the labor movement and I did not want to move forward without their endorsement."
  • Recent rain has officially pulled Dallas-Fort Worth out of the drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. But 60 percent of the state remains in extreme drought, and the Dallas region could still face trouble after the driest year in the state's history.

"In this country, everyone has the ability to pick and choose exactly what they do. I don't judge people. That's their ability." — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Craig James on gay marriage

Must-Read:

 

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