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Politics & Government

Women Rally After Claim That Toomey Staffer Called ‘Menstruation’ A Vulgar Word

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Mark Nootbaar
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90.5 WESA

A small group of women camped out in Station Square Wednesday with an SUV filled with feminine hygiene products and read from the 45-year-old seminal women’s health book Our Bodies, Ourselves.

The event outside of Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s Pittsburgh office in The Landmarks Building was in response to a report from a supporter of Planned Parenthood who told the organization that when she used the word “menstruation” while speaking to a member of Toomey’s staff, she was scolded for using vulgar language before the staff member hung up.

“We are tax payers. We are paying for him to be here. And while not all of us may have voted for him he represents all of us and he should be looking out for his constituents,” said Jessica Semler, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania.

Toomey voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and said he would vote to pull federal funding from Planned Parenthood.

“We believe if you are going to legislate it, you ought to be able to say it,” said Erin Kramer, executive director of One Pittsburgh, who was at the rally. “If you can’t use your big-girl words then you shouldn’t be in a position to take funding away from people who can.”

Toomey’s office did not directly respond to the complaint about linking the word menstruation with vulgarity, but did issue a statement saying the senator has and will continue to listen to input from constituents.

The women at the event were encouraged to continue to write letters, send emails and call Toomey’s office asking him not to defund Planned Parenthood.

Semler said the organization is focused on preserving federal funding and not on building a back-up plan.

“In the 100 years that Planned Parenthood has been around we’ve been through lots of different fights and this is another fight that we believe we’re going to end up winning,” Semler said.  “Our doors are going to stay open no matter what, because people need us.”

The donated goods were sent to the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit On The Spot, which provides “supplies for local schools to hand out to girls who find themselves unsupplied and ‘on the spot’” during their periods.