My last post was about fear. Many in this country are afraid for the future. I admit, I too fear what I see happening–especially the loss of objectivity that has resulted from relying on and trusting the media. It seems we are being discouraged from the practice of critical thinking–especially in regards to social issues and public policy. In an age when some opinions are deemed more correct than others, our individual views are no longer respected. Whereas once, discussion and debate were the sport of the thinking person, from grade school to university, dissent has fallen out of favor. Testing one’s ideas, against those of others, is no longer encouraged, and those who argue, are disregarded as disagreeable people with distasteful views.
I was frothing with frustration over the recent flap about The Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. Many women have strong emotional allegiance to one or both organizations. I have views on both organizations, but allegiance to neither.
On the one side is Planned Parenthood, defending a woman’s right to control her body. Planned Parenthood’s services cover a broad spectrum related to reproductive health and sexual freedom. Over the last 100 years, Planned Parenthood has been to many the patron saint of the sexually active, rescuing many from the consequences of their choices.
On the other side, is best known entity to any and all who have been affected by breast cancer. Giving hope to all who have felt the helplessness of a diagnosis of breast cancer, and comfort to those who have lost loved ones to the disease, the Komen Foundation exists for the sole purpose of raising money to fund things related to stopping breast cancer. With their iconic pink ribbons everywhere, this organization is favored by all who have who have walked for The Cure , or counted their years cancer-free.
Though what these organizations do, can be quantified by their annual reports, it is the intangible things they provide which wins over supporters. Both organizations have their own mission(s). Certainly, Planned Parenthood’s status as the nation’s largest abortion provider makes them the more controversial organization, yet they succeeded in making the public angry at a benign organization devoted to saving women’s lives.
I was seething at the media coverage and social reactions to the conflict. A controversy over money, was depicted as a clash between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice factions. The battle line was drawn, somewhere between The T & A. Most of us value the stuff above our waists as much as we value the stuff below, nevertheless, the media and social networks were buzzing with allegations that that The Susan G. Komen Foundation hates women. There were accusations that Planned Parenthood was being unfairly targeted because of the political agenda of SGK. It was reported that the funding cuts would endanger low-income and minority women.
Nobody in the media was presenting the facts. The issue was covered emotionally, not objectively. Illustrating the kind of angry remarks which flooded social media and the blogosphere were comments showing the gun* pictured here, as evidence Susan G. Komen is pro-death. This seemed especially ironic to me considering one of the reasons Planned Parenthood is so revered, it that it is emblematic of women being empowered to take control of their own lives. Isn’t Planned Parenthood the feminist solution to freeing women from men’s attempts to subjugate them?
*The Komen foundation was not affiliated or partnering with the handgun manufacturer or this gun.
Lost in the emotion and hype were the facts.
There were reasons that SGK decided to pull the grants. Not only that, but SGK wasn’t pulling all the grants to all of Planned Parenthood, just to clinics who were under investigation for possible misuse of federal funds. The media focused on how women would suffer because they wouldn’t have access to cancer screenings, but they failed to mention Planned Parenthood does not provide mammography. In fact, the kind of screening they do, isn’t that different from the kind 16-year old boys dream of performing. They do manual exams, and provide referrals to other agencies equipped to do mammography or ultrasound. It doesn’t seem those services would be very expensive to provide, yet the SGK grants amounted to about $700,000. That seems like a large amount, but it’s small change compared to the approximately $300 million that Planned Parenthood receives from taxpayers via Medicaid, or the $70 million in Title X funding. Nevertheless, some vowed to never again support Susan G. Komen’s organization. Others rallied to raise money to shore-up Planned Parenthood. Listening to the outrage, one could easily be lead to believe Planned Parenthood would be significantly impacted by this loss of funding.
The politics of women’s health are filled of controversy, but the commitment to women’s health shouldn’t be. These organizations have different agendas, and represent different things to different women. The media wanted us to believe that if Planned Parenthood lost, women would suffer, but it’s not a zero sum game. The big losers in this round were neither the clinics, nor clients of Planned Parenthood. The real losers were women–as an organization funding breast cancer research became the enemy, while the organization representing a woman’s right to choose, made it clear they believe they are THE only choice.
Deb’s Note: This controversy will have a lasting impact on The Susan G. Komen Foundation for The Cure, as those who Pro-Choice supporters express disdain and Pro-Life supporters distance themselves from SGK for their affiliation with Planned Parenthood.