Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Susan G. Komen Foundation and the pink ribbon of cowardice UPDATED

 I don't know where to begin with this:
 Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the country’s best-known and best-funded breast cancer organization. Known for it’s iconic pink ribbon and annual Race for the Cure event, the organization has invested nearly $2 billion in cancer education and research since its founding in 1982.
But today, bowing to political pressure, Komen for the Cure announced that it is severing its partnership with Planned Parenthood and will stop providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants that allow their centers to perform breast exams on women who could not otherwise get them.
And the reason the Komen Foundation severed its ties with Planned Parenthood?:
 Karen Handel, who was endorsed by Sarah Palin during her unsuccessful bid for governor of Georgia in 2010, has been the Foundation's Senior Vice President for Public Policy since April 2011. During her gubernatorial candidacy, she ran on an anti-choice platform, vowing that if elected, she'd defund Planned Parenthood. Handel wrote on her campaign blog,
"I will be a pro-life governor who will work tirelessly to promote a culture of life in Georgia…. I believe that each and every unborn child has inherent dignity, that every abortion is a tragedy, and that government has a role, along with the faith community, in encouraging women to choose life in even the most difficult of circumstances…. since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood."
 She even promised to eliminate funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings provided by the organization.
That's right. The nation's largest charity for breast cancer education and research bowed to pressure from extremist anti-choice activists. The Komen Foundation can no longer be considered a legitimate advocate for women's health due to its adoption of Christian fundamentalist ideology. 

As Amanda Marcotte explains:  
 The existence of breast-cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood has always been a thorn in the anti-choice side. Most of Planned Parenthood's services are related to the choice to be sexually active---contraception, STD screening and treatment, cervical cancer screening---making it easy to write off those services as unnecessary if you follow the strict abstinence-only prescription the Christian right has for women. Breast cancer, however, can strike the lifelong virgin, the married woman who only has sex for procreation, and the dirty fornicator (i.e. the vast majority of American women) alike. Because of this, anti-choicers have tried to create a rift between women's health advocates who focus on breast cancer and those who focus on reproductive health concerns below the waist. Today, they had a victory with Komen's act of cowardice.
In the end, the grant money is less important than the symbolism of Komen buying into the conservative myth of good-girl health care vs. bad-girl health care. In reality, women's health care can only work if it's comprehensive health care. Komen has already been under serious scrutiny by those who argue that the organization cares more about shoring up their image than making real progress in the fight for women's health, and with this move today, they proved their critics right. 
Where does the Komen Foundation go from here? How can it legitimately state that it is working to “save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all” if it is shutting off the only access to cancer screenings many woman have? 

TBogg sums it up the best (as always): "I have to say that killing women with breast cancer before they might consider abortion sometime in their lives is one way to eliminate a woman’s right to choose."

Burn every pink ribbon you see and make a donation to Planned Parenthood if you can. 


John Aravosis provides a great timeline of the Komen Foundation and its VP Karen Handel. Well worth the read.  


C.Rabideaux said...

Right on! Also, Planned Parenthood isn't just for abortion referrals (They don't perform abortions and never have.) Even if you can't donate, you can make sure that you have your annual exam (and any other women's health service) at PP. A pap is a pap is a pap, ladies. The people at Planned Parenthood are super nice and accomodating. They accept most types of insurance, including Medicaid. If you can't afford care, they will go out of their way to help you.

Me said...

Yup. P.P. rocks!!!
With all the attacks on women lately, it's becoming all too clear Margaret Atwood = Prophet