Madoff screws women's groups, reproductive rights issues

As if the down economy wasn't bad enough, the unwravelling of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme has many women's groups struggling for new funding.

Many are facing deep cuts from foundations that were invested with Madoff, who federal authorities have accused of operating a fraudulent $50 billion investment fund that paid out fake profits.

These include the $1 billion Picower Foundation, a major supporter of reproductive rights issues, and the JEHT Foundation, which funds the Stop Prisoner Rape Project and the Women's Prison Association's Institute on Women in Criminal Justice, among other criminal and juvenile justice reform initiatives.

Both have shut down in the wake of Madoff's arrest.

Planned Parenthood groups are reportedly losing $734,000 from Picower, as well as the Shapiro Foundation and Steven Spielberg's Wunderkinder Foundation.

Across the nation, other victims include the Rape Foundation in Santa Monica, Calif., Women's Care Cottage in North Hollywood, Calif., the Center for Traumatic Grief and Victim Service in Moorestown, N.J., Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., Casa Myrna Vasquez in Boston, Mass., and NARAL Pro-Choice America in Washington, D.C. In New York alone, Family Justice Inc., the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and Girls Inc., among other groups, all lost funding in the scheme. The Center for Reproductive Rights, a global advocacy organization for women's reproductive rights based in New York, lost $600,000 in funding from Picower in 2009.