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Conservative Women’s Group Petitions White House on Breast Cancer Research

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In a powerful show of concern for women’s health issues, the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism submitted a petition to President Clinton this week calling for an increase in breast cancer research.

The petition was delivered Monday during a White House visit that came as part of the League’s biennial World Affairs Conference, held in Washington from Oct. 15-19.

“We need a nationally focused comprehensive strategy to combat breast cancer,” the petition reads.

“Only a consistent, high level of funding for breast cancer will help make the necessary difference in this disease,” it says.

Nearly 2.6 million women in the United States have breast cancer, a disease that killed more than 450,000 women in the 1980s, according to the petition.

The league urged Clinton to “bring together selected leaders from the executive branch, the Congress, the scientific community, private industry and women with breast cancer” to “design and implement a comprehensive plan to end the breast cancer epidemic.”

The petition was signed by 225 delegates of the conference, which brought women from more than 20 states and Canada together for meetings at the White House and with members of Congress on topics ranging from health care to the Middle East peace process, according to Rhonda Kahn, the league’s public relations director.

The focal point of the meetings was women’s health care issues, Kahn said.

At the White House, delegates were addressed by several low-level administration officials, including a member of Clinton’s Health Care Task Force, Kahn said.

The group also met on Tuesday with congressional members, including Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Charles Robb (D-Va.), and Reps. Eric Fingerhut (D-Ohio), and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D-Pa.).

The congressional members all said breast cancer research was high on their personal lists of important issues, Kahn said.

“Our feeling was that they are moving in the right direction” on women’s health care issues, she said.

All of the group’s activities were geared toward the conference theme “Hear Our Voice,” which was intended to promote Jewish participation in important political and social issues, said Bernice Balter, executive director of the league.

“As issues are raised, we are here to respond,” she said.

The conference also included a tour of the U.S. Holocaust Museum and visits to area synagogues.

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