I’ve never understood the forces against choice. Not just the choice over when and how and whether we as women have a child or not. Though that does baffle me to my very core. But the forces against choice, freedom, access and rights in general. Why limit and restrict when you can free and grant? Yet here we are, in the year 2012, and we are still fighting a basic fight to be in control of our own bodies, to be granted the full rights, to be free to choose how we live our lives. And to be honest, it pisses me the fuck off. Like when I heard this week that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, had bowed to political pressure and pulled its support for Planned Parenthood, it majorly pissed me the fuck off.
Komen has given Planned Parenthood about $700,000 in grants each year since 2005, which have funded some 170,000 of the breast exams and 6,400 mammograms. But now, that money has stopped. You can have whatever opinion you want on abortion. I certainly am not some sort of abortion cheerleader, but I also certainly respect the right and choice of any women to decide what happens with her own body. But this isn’t about abortion, because none of the Komen money went toward abortion. It went to what the Komen Foundation is supposed to be about – preventing and curing breast cancer.
Komen’s bullshit answer is it has a new policy where it does not fund organizations being investigated by local, state or federal authorities. And it just so happens that Republican Florida Representative Cliff Stearns has launched an investigation over how Planned Parenthood spends its money. Stearns, it should be noted, is virulently anti-choice and, just for good measure, also super anti-gay. Heck, he even wanted to ban gay adoption. How dare we try to be parents to those babies the women who did what you demanded and decided not to have abortions gave up for adoption!
But for the record, because it bears repeated repeating, only 3 percent – yes, THREE PERCENT – of Planned Parenthood’s patient care goes toward abortion services. The vast majority is contraception (35 percent), STD infection/prevention care (35 percent), cancer screening/prevention (16 percent) and other women’s services (10 percent). In case you’re doing the math, the other 1 percent goes to other services. Also, Congress has already banned the use of federal money for abortions. So while the federal government does provide a large portion of Planned Parenthood’s funding, it is already prohibited from using any of that money for abortion services.
I have been lucky in my life not to need Planned Parenthood services. But I have many friends who have. In fact one in five women in the U.S. has visited a Planned Parenthood health center at least once in her life. The organization helps millions of particularly low-income and minority women who would otherwise have absolutely no access to safe and affordable health care services. These are life-saving services like pap smears, breast exams, STD screenings and more.
So what’s this all about then? If the Komen money goes toward breast cancer screening and the federal dollars are already prohibited from being used for abortions? It’s about attacking women. It’s about denying us the most basic health care rights. It’s about controlling our bodies. It’s about making the choices for us. Well, we can make our own choices. We are in control of our own bodies. We are not political footballs. We are women. And you will now hear us roar. Donate to Planned Parenthood today, tomorrow and as long as it takes. Happy weekend, all.
UPDATE: UPDATE: Indeed, Komen has issued a statement saying it changed its policy prohibiting organizations under investigation from being eligible for its grants. It said “We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants.” Given the debacle, this is a clear attempt at damaging fallout from this clearly political decision. While I am happy Komen has made Planned Parenthood eligible again for its grants, I have learned more about the organization that makes me wary of its motivations. Not only did it hire a stridently anti-choice senior vice president for public policy last year and its CEO is a major contributor to Republican political candidates. The good news, Planned Parenthood has received some $3 million in donations since this whole debacle started. The moral of this story? The women and men who support women’s health are legion. And we will not be silenced.