Why I’m Still Mad at Susan G. Komen
January 31, Komen for the Cure announced that they would no longer provide funding to Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings for low-income women. Their original claim was because PP was under congressional investigation and that it was against their newly adopted policy to fund organizations that were under investigation by either state or federal authority. Most critics called bullshit and claimed that this was Komen giving in to the demands of anti-abortion lobbyists who have been pressuring them to cut their ties to Planned Parenthood for some time now.
The next few days would prove to be packed with drama. Planned Parenthood started receiving more donations and support from men and women; Mollie Williams, Komen’s top health official, immediately resigned upon the decision; Twitter was ablaze with tweets of protest; people stood outside Komen’s headquarters to have their voices heard; Lizz Winstead was everywhere voicing her outrage.*
And then February 3rd, just a few days later, Komen announced that they reversed their decision and would continue to support Planned Parenthood. More cries of protest, from conservatives this time; Karen Handel, an executive and vice president at Komen, quit. Other than that, it seemed to be a win for PP and for the individuals who stood by them.
Though I am very glad that the Komen foundation did succumb to the public’s outrage, I feel this victory to be a bit flat. I got what I wanted, but I am still angry, and it’s for two reasons:
One—watching and reading the reports this last week has reminded me how much I hate these religiously fanatic conservatives and the way politics insist on using a woman’s body as a battleground for political debate. As Jill Lepore stated in her post for the New Yorker online, “In American politics, women’s bodies are not bodies, but parts.”** These lobbyists and right-wingers are so bothered by what women might or might not do with their reproductive parts that they are willing to jeopardize the other aspects of their health in protest. They don’t want women having abortions, so instead, they cut off their access to screenings and preventions. By they way, roughly 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides are abortions, while the rest include cancer screenings, treatment for STDs, and contraceptive services.*** So all these conservative delegates are really doing is cutting off access for low-income women to health care that everyone deserves despite your financial situation or your politics. They are so blinded by their great Christian morals and claim to be pro-life when, in reality, they can’t see the existing lives they are harming.
Second—though Komen ultimately made the right decision, my image of them has definitely been tarnished. What used to be pictures of pink ribbons, women running relays to bring awareness, and a foundation dedicated to saving lives is now just a bunch of submissive bureaucrats who are easy to bully. Their intentions, their mission statement, everything they once stood for now rings false, making it unlikely for me to be able to shake off this sense of betrayal. Basically, in my opinion, the only way they can make up for this bad PR is if they find the cure for cancer.