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Friday, February 3, 2012

woman vs. woman: my response to komen

Some of you were probably wondering if and when I was going to write about Susan G. Komen and their decision to cut funding from Planned Parenthood. The truth is, finding the energy to sit down and express my feelings about this right now is hard. It's made me emotional, as silly as that sounds. I'm having a difficult time grasping how this can happen – how an organization can cut financial support for women in need because of one person's political views. How a woman can, essentially, not support the health and well being of a fellow woman.

About twelve years ago, my mom was very lucky. Or unlucky, depending on how you view it. She found a lump in her armpit during a self-exam. She had a proactive doctor. She had a proactive surgeon. She had and still has an incredibly proactive oncologist. And she had excellent health insurance. Because of her medical insurance and her medical providers, she was able to watch me graduate from high school and college. She stood at the front of the church on my wedding day. And I hope that, one day very soon, I'll be able to place her first grandchild in her arms.

I don't like to think about what life might have been like had my mom not received the medical care that she needed and deserved. Yet, it's difficult not to wonder when you hear stories like this: stories of women who are innocent victims in an unnecessary political crossfire. How would I have felt if my mom couldn't get the care she deserved because she was unable to afford health insurance and because someone couldn't look past her political agenda long enough to say, "My job is to help save the lives of all women."

In fact, this is the foundation's promise, is it not? In their words, they've pledged to "to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find cures." For all? It certainly doesn't seem that way. It seems as though it's negotiable. As in, "We will ensure quality care for all, but only at the health care facilities we choose. Wait . . . Planned Parenthood is the only clinic you have access to in your area? Sorry, you're out of luck."

Despite being pro choice, I am not a supporter of Planned Parenthood in the financial sense. I have never donated to their organization. I have, however, donated to Susan G. Komen in the past. My support of the charity ended long before their severed relationship with PPFA, for their "pinkwashing" and their corporate partnerships with organizations like KFC. But that's not what this is about. This isn't and shouldn't be about why I don't support Komen.

Instead, it should be a dialogue about how to make this stop. How do we stop stripping American women of their basic healthcare rights based on politics? For me, this is yet another example of how the government and my body – or yours – simply don't mix. Nothing, and I mean nothing, should trump a woman's right to basic healthcare. There should be no reason, political or otherwise, to deny funding for breast exams and mammograms. I've had to fight for this right myself, and I am lucky enough to have insurance. Now I stand with and for the millions of women who don't have coverage. They will be the ones who suffer from this action, not Planned Parenthood.

My message to Karen Handel is this: For years, you have claimed to an advocate for breast cancer awareness, and yet now you deny that awareness to hundreds of thousands of women because they choose to have their health exams performed at one particular organization. You are a female who is turning her cheek toward those in need and refusing them the right to the medical testing they deserve. I find your decision deplorable. You are an example of what is fundamentally wrong with this country as it relates to the relationship between politics and healthcare, and I am deeply ashamed to call you a fellow woman.


KT said...

Amen! I have nothing else to add except for the fact that I won't be running in their 5k this year or raising any money for Komen. The whole thing is disgusting.

gailcanoe said...

I wrote a letter to Ms. Handel and am sending it today to express my "disappointment" in her decision.

nurslouisa said...

This is one of the best posts I've read on this. Thank you.

gailcanoe said...

CNN and MSNBC are both reporting that the funding decision has been reversed and Susan G Komen will continue to fund Planned Parenthood

Hapa Hopes said...

Where's the like button when you need it? Thank you for this fantastic article.

Keiko said...

Cheers. Right on! I struggled with writing about this whole thing b/c it was just like another kick in the gut - and from an organization you think is supposed to be an ally in our fight for women's healthcare.

Wonderfully written!

It Is What It Is said...

At Mel from Stirrup-Queens suggestion, I printed out the PP At A Glance page from their website and, along with a copy of Ms. Handel's deplorable re-tweet (which has since been deleted but lives on in infamy), sent it to Ms. Handel expressing that in her role she should do better for all women and I hope she is as ashamed of herself as I am of her.

And, while their reversal of decision comes as no surprise, the die has been cast in terms of my opinion of the Komen Foundation.

jjiraffe said...

Great post. Thanks for summing up so eloquently what is so wrong with what is going on here. It really is disturbing.

foxy said...

well said Katie.

when you start to realize how political decisions affect women's health and bodies it is hard not to get involved and speak out.

Sandy said...

Thank you for writing this!

Kelly said...

I still can't believe that they could have possibly thought that this was going to bode well in their favor, reversal or no reversal of their decision.

Where I have walked, and I have donated, I will put my feet forward, and my money elsewhere for a less prejudiced cause.