So Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure today announced that they will no longer give any funding to Planned Parenthood.
This funding allowed Planned Parenthood to provide breast examinations and referrals for mammography and ultrasound to patients at their health centers, patients who were able to be seen and treated at Planned Parenthood regardless of income or insurance, because of Planned Parenthood’s sliding scale fees and commitment to treating as many people as possible.
In the aftermath of this, which has turned into a flurry of opinion and counter-opinion, deleted comments on Komen’s Facebook wall, and a tweetstorm of epic proportion, some salient points worth consideration:
While pressuring Komen to reverse this decision is an option (and there is already an online petition going for that purpose) it seems unlikely to be effective. I am decidedly pessimistic about Komen walking back from this precipice.
Komen has said that this decision arose from a new policy of not funding any organization that is under government investigation. Since Planned Parenthood was already under investigation when the policy was changed, it’s pretty clear that the policy was targeting PP.
Moreover, this Komen policy and the subsequent de-funding came quickly behind the hiring of Karen Handel as Komen’s Senior Vice President for Public Policy. Those in Georgia recall that in 2010 Handel ran for governor of Georgia with a extremely anti-choice platform. This woman is responsible for policy decisions for Komen, and she is clearly opposed to Planned Parenthood.
And we cannot forget that the founder of Komen, Nancy Brinker, has long been tied to the highest ranks of Republican politics.
Komen didn’t cave to external pressure from the right wing, because the right wing is intrinsic to the executive power structure of Komen.
Those who rely upon Planned Parenthood as their health provider, who still need breast examinations, who still need funded referrals when there is an issue, well, they’re collateral damage in a culture war that begin more than 30 years ago and has always had its sights set not just on Planned Parenthood but any organization that supported or affiliated with them.
So where do we go from here?
Well we give Komen the business. We email (firstname.lastname@example.org), we tweet (@komenforthecure), we call (972-701-2168). We absolutely refuse to donate, not directly, not by buying pink ribbon festooned (and pinkwashed) products, not by sponsoring someone for a 5K or a 3 day walk. So long as Komen plays politics with human lives, they should not see another single penny of our money.
But more importantly, far more importantly, we do donate to Planned Parenthood, we go over and above the money that they will lose because of Komen, we get every penny we can to Planned Parenthood to ensure that no one will go without a needed cancer screening, no one’s life will be placed at risk because of where they get their medical care.
Planned Parenthood — and its clients, by extension — must be our primary concern and our primary focus. The political battle will always be there, it can be put on hold for a while. The patients whose care is hanging in the balance cannot wait.
We must keep our focus, we must redouble our commitment, we must step into the breech.
Join me in making a tax-deductible donation to Planned Parenthood right now.