I Stand with Planned Parenthood

“The nation’s leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates—creating a bitter rift, linked to the abortion debate, between two iconic organizations that have assisted millions of women.”

That’s a great lead from the Associated Press.

Too bad it’s attached to such a sorry story.

When I first heard the news, I resisted the urge to blog, knowing that my anger at Komen would create a flaming piece full of emotional ranting. Today is marginally better, and while this piece is sure to be full of anger at Komen, hopefully it won’t be too flaming.

I’m certain that much was written about this topic yesterday by my fellow pink ribbon gals in the blog-o-sphere. I’m equally certain that their writings are eloquent, thoroughly researched, and well-thought-out.

Mine, not so much. I’m writing off the cuff and emotionally. I’m mad. No, wait — I’m pissed. I’m disgusted. I’m disappointed. I’m sad. I’m upset.

This story weighed on my mind all day yesterday, and I specifically resisted the urge to read every story I could find. I’m not usually good at walking away from a fight, just so you know.

That Komen would end its alliance with Planned Parenthood is bad enough. That Komen is walking away because of political BS makes me sick.

I’ll be writing a scathing letter to Rep. Cliff Stearns in Florida to tell him what a jackass idiot narrow-minded pork chop I think he is. I have no illusions that he’ll actually read it, but it will make me feel better.

Before I launch into it, let me be clear about one thing: this blog is not intended to promote either a pro-choice or an anti-abortion position. This blog is intended to highlight the atrocity of hiding behind that position and thereby compromising PP’s ability to provide breast health to the very women who need it most.

Ok, here’s the story: Stearns, aka jackass idiot narrow-minded pork chop, got his panties in a wad and launched an official inquiry into PP to see if public funds have been used to pay for abortions.

Since Stearns has neither a uterus nor a pair of ovaries, I can’t for the life of me fathom why he’d stick his nose into this issue, but people do idiotic, narrow-minded things every day.

Unfortunately, he is the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s investigative subcommittee, and he has the power to conduct a witch-hunt under the guise of public service. Apparently this goes back to Republican lawmakers’ failure to defund PP during federal budget negotiations last year. Since they couldn’t inflict their hack job then, they want to do it now, and it seems that Komen is along for the ride.

Stearns has demanded that PP cough up “internal audits conducted from 1998 to 2010; state-level audits going back 20 years; copies of policies certifying that federal dollars are not co-mingled in programs that fund abortions; and procedures for reporting crimes such as statutory rape, sexual abuse and suspected sex trafficking.” Oh, and he wants it on his desk in two weeks.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said that PP will comply with Stearns’s request in a timely manner, “despite the clear political motivation” of the investigation. The fact is that PP is regularly audited by the Department of Health and Human Services and is found to be in compliance with federal law. Richards asserts that PP “only uses taxpayer money to help low-income patients afford preventative health care and family-planning services.”

For 95 years, PP has provided healthcare worldwide. PP bills itself as a “commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning.” Yet Stearns and Komen want to tear it down because of politics. Sick. Richards went on to say that “at a time when American people need jobs, some members of Congress are instead misusing political power to go after health care access for the most vulnerable women in this country, and that’s a shame.”
It is indeed a shame. Sounds like Stearns wants to bury PP in paperwork. And the issue isn’t women’s breast health — and the potential to save lives from the vicious beast that is breast cancer — but Stearns’s anti-abortion stance. PP receives some $360 million a year from the federal government for women’s health services, and PP maintains that none of that money is used for abortions. Abortions account for only 3 percent of PP’s services, and they are paid for out of pocket by the patients. So what about the other 97 percent of PP’s services?

Yes, PP provides abortions. And yes, abortion is a terrible thing for any woman to face. And yes, it certainly is preferable to have healthy babies born into loving families with the means to care for that child. But in the real world, it doesn’t always work that way. For Stearns and Komen to abandon PP for one politically-motivated, emotionally-volatile issue is cowardly. PP is about more than birth control. Way more. I sure wish Stearns could see that.

Komen insists that the decision to give PP the shaft was not political. Baloney. According to The New York Times, Komen called its break with Planned Parenthood “regrettable,” but added that “we must continue to evolve to best meet the needs of the women we serve and most fully advance our mission.”


Pardon the shouting. I have very little patience for bullshit.

If Komen really wanted to meet the needs of the women it serves, it would continue funding PP and the important work done by PP affiliates all over this country. And if Komen really wanted to break from PP because of the abortion issue, just come out with it. I’d have a lot more respect for the organization if it was honest. But it’s not, and PP–along with the women under its umbrella — will suffer because of it. Women who can ill afford more suffering. To wit, if a couple, such as the one I am a part of, with 4 college degrees between them and a good-paying job with comprehensive health-care benefits struggles to meet the demands of a breast cancer diagnosis, what hope does a single woman have? Or a married woman who happens to be low-income? Or inadequately educated? That’s where PP comes in, and does a tremendous service to women facing a breast cancer diagnosis.

As stated on its website, this move means that “at immediate risk are low-income women, many located in rural and underserved communities, served by 19 Planned Parenthood programs funded by the Komen Foundation. This funding has enabled designated Planned Parenthood health centers to provide women with breast health education, screenings, and referrals for mammograms — lifesaving care for women where Planned Parenthood is their only source of health care.”

Both Stearns and Komen are being sharply criticized for this bone-headed move. Stearn’s peers are fuming, and Komen is taking a beating in the social media outlets. Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Diana DeGette of Colorado joined forces and  wrote a letter to Stearns expressing their opposition to his investigation, which they say is “unwarranted” and “designed to harass and shut down an organization simply because Republicans disagree with the work that it does.”

“We are aware of no predicate that would justify this sweeping and invasive request to Planned Parenthood,” Waxman and DeGette wrote in the letter. “It would be an abuse of the oversight process if you are now using the Committee’s investigative powers to harass Planned Parenthood again. Your fervent ideological opposition to Planned Parenthood does not justify launching this intrusive investigation.”

There is a call for Stearns to reconsider the investigation and find more productive ways to use the subcommittee’s resources, such as examining private health insurers who are under-reporting drug manufacturer rebates, or re-examining food safety.

Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Jackie Speier, both of California, criticized Stearns and revoked their support for Komen yesterday. Boxer said, “I was perplexed and troubled to see the decision by Susan G. Komen for the Cure to cut off funding for life-saving breast cancer screenings through Planned Parenthood because of a political witch hunt by House Republicans. I truly hope that they will reconsider this decision and put the needs of women first.” Speier added her opinion on the House floor, saying, “I have been a big booster of the Susan G. Komen organization, but not anymore.”  One of Komen’s own affiliates withdrew its support as well. The Connecticut affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure said in a statement on Wednesday that it “shares” people’s frustration over the decision and that it will continue funding Planned Parenthood of New England. Yeah! Rock on!

Komen and Stearns and their ilk need to hear the message loud and clear that regardless of one’s position on abortion, it is wrong to politicize women’s health. To politicize low-income and underserved women’s health is even more egregious. Check out this Polipulse poll of Komen’s decision to abandon PP.

The vast majority of people who are talking about this issue online think it’s wrong, and Stearns and Komen need to hear that. Ironically, since Komen severed ties with PP, money has been pouring in to PP.  Fellow Texans Lee & Amy Fikes donated $250,000 to PP for a “Breast Health Emergency Fund,” and the hope is that donations to PP will match or surpass the roughly $680,000 it received from Komen in 2011. Keep hope alive, because by yesterday afternoon, PP announced that it had received $400,000 from some 6,000 individual donors since Komen left. PP spokesperson Tait Sye issued this statement: “Politics should not get in the way of women’s health, and people respond powerfully when they see politics interfering with women’s health. The donations send a message to stand up to bullying and protect access to health care.”

Equally promising is that PP saw a spike in appointments for breast examinations yesterday. “The silver lining is that more people than ever are aware that Planned Parenthood provides breast exams, and we’re seeing more people calling us today to make an appointment,” Sye said.
So there, Komen. Take that, Stearns.
If you too are sickened by organizations and politicians interfering with women’s health, say so. Demand better. Click here to sign the open letter in support of PP. It costs nothing but makes a statement. Click here to take it a step further and donate to PP. Click here to tell Cliff Stearns he’s way off base with his underhanded, dishonest investigation. If that letter is worded too strongly for your taste, write your own and send it here, straight to Stearns’s homepage. Click here to send a message to Komen.

24 Comments on “I Stand with Planned Parenthood”

  1. Cookie says:

    Tell it like it is sister…. Things written from the heart and from the cuff.. is what makes great things happen.

    • Cookie says:

      Thought you might like to see what writing from the heart and from the cuff manages to doFollowing a massive public backlash over its decision to pull funding for breast cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker apologized to the family planning organization on Friday and said Komen will preserve its eligibility for future grants.

      Brinker said in a statement that the decision is a result of “distress” at the “presumption” that Komen, the nation’s largest breast cancer charity, pulled its funding from Planned Parenthood for political reasons:

      We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.
      The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.

      Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.

      Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.

      It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics.

      Starting this afternoon, we will have calls with our network and key supporters to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work. We ask for the public’s understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.

      We extend our deepest thanks for the outpouring of support we have received from so many in the past few days and we sincerely hope that these changes will be welcomed by those who have expressed their concern.

      To be clear, Komen’s apology is not a promise to renew Planned Parenthood grants. It’s a promise to “continue to fund existing grants” to the organization — which it was already planning on doing — and to make it eligible for future grants. At no point in the press release does Brinker promise that Komen will renew grants to Planned Parenthood.

      Planned Parenthood has raised nearly one million dollars in the past several days — including a $250,000 donation from New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg — due to an outpouring of public support. The amount would have been more than enough to make up for the $600,000 Komen donates to Planned Parenthood each year. All of that funding goes toward breast cancer care, screenings and referrals.

      Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, responded to Komen’s apology in a statement on Friday:

      The outpouring of support for women in need of lifesaving breast cancer screening this week has been astonishing and is a testament to our nation’s compassion and sincerity.
      During the last week, millions spontaneously joined a national conversation about lifesaving breast cancer prevention care and reinforced shared values about access to health care for all. This compassionate outcry in support of those most in need rose above political, ideological, and cultural divides, and will surely be recognized as one of our nation’s better moments during a contentious political time. Planned Parenthood thanks each and every person who has contributed to elevating the importance of breast cancer prevention for so many women in need.

      In recent weeks, the treasured relationship between the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and Planned Parenthood has been challenged, and we are now heartened that we can continue to work in partnership toward our shared commitment to breast health for the most underserved women. We are enormously grateful that the Komen Foundation has clarified its grantmaking criteria, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Komen partners, leaders and volunteers. What these past few days have demonstrated is the deep resolve all Americans share in the fight against cancer, and we honor those who are at the helm of this battle.

      “Planned Parenthood has been a trusted partner with the Komen Foundation in early cancer detection and prevention services. In particular, Planned Parenthood helps the Komen Foundation reach vulnerable populations — low-income women, African-American women, and Latinas — especially in rural areas and underserved communities where Planned Parenthood health centers are their only source of health care. With Komen Foundation grants, over the past five years, Planned Parenthood health centers provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and more than 6,400 mammogram referrals. With the outpouring of support over the past week, even more women in need will receive lifesaving breast cancer care.

  2. David Benbow says:

    You go, girl! Planned Parenthood does so much for so many.

  3. Nancy,
    I like it when you write emotionally and “off the cuff!” Excellent post!

  4. Eddie says:

    I am always struck by the sad irony that many of the voices decrying abortion by saying nothing is more important than human life refuse to do much of anything for those humans already living. I will now click on the links to add my voice to the protest.

  5. Marcie says:

    I was hoping I’d be strong enough this next year to participate in a Komen walk, but no way will I do that now, and I’ll no longer give money to friends who walk for them, as long as Komen plays politics with women’s lives.Thanks for a great post!

    • Tamara Kay says:

      Amen, sister! I don’t know you, but I hope you’re strong enough, too. And I totally support your “strong enough” self NOT participating in the walk, for the reasons you stated. Well said!

  6. Phew, thank goodness for our National Health Service here in the UK.

  7. Jody Hicks says:

    I’m sure you’re not surprised that I would have a dissenting opinion, and that my respect for Komen has gone up several notches for its decision to fund only organizations that actually do mammograms. You quoted that PP does “referrals” for mammograms, and that is because all they actually do is feel the breast for lumps, which, as you well know, is a most unreliable exam (and when one is found that way, it’s most often too late). Unfortunately, it is the media who has politicized the decision by playing up the abortion issue, when the decision was based on what Komen really stands for, which is research and preventive measures for breast cancer, including help for low-income women. Because of your own horrible experience, I plan to resume contributing to Komen again, and, when the smoke clears and the initial fury dies down, I hope you will see that pro-life or pro-choice had nothing to do with it, but that Komen really does have your best interests at heart.

    • Christy says:

      SGK does not stand for research, it stands for AWARENESS. Think pink…think about women with breast cancer…get your mammorgram! SGK puts very little money into research and now it looks as though they’ve stopped giving money for prevention. Shame on them!

    • Trevor Hicks says:

      Mom – first off, Nancy’s cancer was discovered by a ‘hands-on’ exam and not a mammogram. Furthermore, she had 5 cm of cancer tumors in both breasts that neither appeared on the pre-op mammogram nor the MRI, but were only discovered in the surgical biopsy. So let’s not exalt imaging as the be-all, end-all of cancer screening.

      Second, it’s the height of naïveté to buy Komen’s excuse-making about an obviously political decision. It’s like believing Obama when he said he just needed more time to study the pipeline. We kind of expect that sort of lying from politicians but not from charitable organizations.

      All that said, I think if you believed in Komen’s mission before you should probably still support them now. Cutting off Komen over PP seems to me no different than Komen cutting off PP over abortion.

      • Jody Hicks says:

        Just now getting to the computer today, and heard on the radio that Komen had relented under pressure, so I guess I was wrong again. However, I really appreciate your giving the details of how Nancy’s cancer was found, which I did not know.

        I’m also wondering why I had the perception that Komen’s main mission is funding research instead of just awareness. I think I’ll just stick with the advice you and Nancy gave sometime back about just supporting the local charities which provide preventive help for women.

        Love to you both – Mom

  8. Tamara Kay says:

    OMG..I knew you would post about this, and I knew what you would say! Way to go Nancy. This issue takes me back in time to my college years. When I was on my parents’ insurance, but didn’t want my father to get EOB’s stating doctor visits for birth control. I don’t even know if that would show up on an EOB, but I didn’t want to find out. Many times, a well woman visit at PP was more convenient than scheduling one on a visit home from school. So, I am one who made many visits to PP, and never once had an abortion. Those visits were inexpensive enough for me, a college student on a VERY tight budget, to afford, and it just makes me ANGRY that this has happened!

  9. Patti Ross says:

    I appreciate and share your anger at this whole situation. What I focused on in the stories I heard was that Komen was saying it was a policy decision–we no longer share funding with anyone under investigation for anything. That seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face, to be rather cliched about it. In a country where the legal system is grounded on the idea of innocent until proven guilty, this policy seems wrong. If one is already being funded and then goes under investigation, maybe be put on notice that the resolution would deterine if funding continues; for new funding decisions, maybe an investigation is part of the deciding process, but even that seems far-fetched. It is this wrinkle that Komen seems to be citing as its reasoning process that makes me see this move as politically motivated. I am saddened and disappointed by this whole situaion, but thrilled that it is bringing more appintments and more donations to PP.

    On the concern that PP does not offer the mammogram, which is the better test to check for breast health–I concur that the mammogram is better. BUT let’s not assume that those who go to PP for some help with breast care will go somewhere else for a mammogram; these women need a place to go to begin the dialog, to get some help, so they can eventually move on to a mammogram. Funding one option over another is any person’s or organization’s choice, but from my limited view of this story as it has been unfolding, I do not see this decision as being the key motivator to the change in funding.

  10. Great summary of a complicated issue. Thank you.

  11. Trevor Hicks says:

    Of course, nobody has to sit back and allow Komen to do their good deeds for them. I urge Houston folks that are upset to support The Rose that you’ve previously advocated.

  12. bugoliath says:

    Awesome post. You have every right to express your frustration this way. I know I feel it and have also been sitting on my hands reading better bloggers than I, but it’s getting harder and harder to keep quiet. I’m glad you let Komen have it! Well done.

  13. elizabeth connolly says:

    thanks for making it easy for us to voice our anger at the whole issue. I can not stand men voicing opinions on issues that they will never have to face Also, is not abortion still the law of the land.It just shows that woman are still second class citizens. love you and you go after them.

  14. […] and elsewhere by Komen’s decision to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood. Chemobrain, The Pink Underbelly, Nancy’s Point, Pink Ribbon Blues, Jackie Fox,  and Uneasy Pink have all come out in […]

  15. Flossy says:

    I read your posting and was jeloaus

  16. […] blog has been mighty serious lately. With topics like this and this and this, there’s been little room for the funnier things in […]

  17. […] how precious little SGK has done to actually look for, much less find, a cure. Once the SGK-Planned Parenthood debacle occurred, I decided that SGK would not get one dime from me, ever again. I did the Race for the […]

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