Komen Foundation reverses decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood – but why should women rely on Planned Parenthood?

After the scandal surrounding the Susan G. Korman for the Cure’s decision to stop funding for Planned Parenthood, the breast cancer charity reversed its decision and apologized to the thousands of folks who have responded with disgust. Politics made its way into breast cancer – and while there are people who will say there is no room for politics in the debate of health, they would be wrong. Politics are all over health care. And what I realized more than ever is how necessary it is for our country to stop debating about universal healthcare and start moving toward implementing it.

It’s simple: no person in this country should be denied health care. Work, school or marriage – three of the ways that you may get access to insurance – should not be tickets to healthcare. Every person should have access to health care.

Part of the reason that the Koman Foundation’s decision was so damaging is that there are many areas – especially lower-income areas – where Planned Parenthood is the only option for women who may be uninsured, or underinsured (because, people, having insurance does not guarantee healthcare if your deductibles make it prohibitively expensive). Which of course shines a glaring light on the issue: why are women looking to charities in the first place. We should not hope and pray that the kindness and generosity of others will ensure that women will get life-saving screenings. 

This should be a wake up call for those opposed to universal healthcare, but it won’t be. Many on the side of privatized health care are also on the side of either illegalizing abortions or the restriction of public funding for the practice. In fact, despite the loud outcry against the Koman Foundation’s initial decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood, there was a vocal minority that supported the decision, insisting that saving women’s life shouldn’t be aligned with killing innocent babies. Of course, this argument is cock-eyed and specious at best – I always return to the same refrain: If you are anti-choice, then don’t have an abortion. One’s own personal morals should not affect the lives of others.

The outcry against its decision to cut funds to Planned Parenthood, also brought out other issues that Susan G. Koman for the Cure including questions about its expenses, its tactics and its effectiveness. Some argue that the overhead cost is too high – other’s argue that the PR and marketing team are too aggressive in its alleged attempt to brand breast cancer. These questions should be asked – especially in light of the decisions the powers-at-be with Susan G. Koman for the Cure made when hiring the current VP, Karen Handel – a woman who ran unsuccessfully for governor of Georgia on a conservative platform that included opposition to gay rights and abortion rights (this is especially troubling when we think of lesbian breast health – how can an org that has an actively hostile employee like Handel be a good advocate for all women fighting breast cancer).

This decision is a good start, but there needs to be more. I’d suggest sacking Handel. She’s obviously not an appropriate choice for the Koman Foundation – and if she is, then donors seriously need to rethink their commitment to this organization. I know I have – I believed in the organization, but no longer. As someone truly interested in women’s health, I’ll research and give my money to other breast health organizations. The folks at Komen could run their organization any way they’d like – and this reversal doesn’t guarantee that Planned Parenthood will be funded in the future – but they shoul also expect serious backlash similar to the one that forced them to do an about-face earlier today.


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