Long before Susan G. Komen for the Cure decided to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, one breast cancer survivor began to ask questions about how the cause of finding a cure had turned into a money-making enterprise.
Dr. Samantha King’s 2008 book, “Pink Ribbons” — which questions the legitimacy of the market-driven survivorship industry — was the basis for a documentary by the same name that was released in Canada on Friday.
King suggests that corporations are “pinkwashing” by using the iconic pink ribbon as a feel-good tactic in order to sell merchandise.
An Illustrated Look at Why Komen’s Decision to Pull Funding Is So Deadly
Planned Parenthood raised at least $650,000. Keep it going.
Oh boy, Komen’s website just got hacked.
Serves ‘em right, though. #IStandWithPlannedParenthood
If you’re pissed off, show it with your dollars—even if you can only part with a few of them. And afterwards, be sure to tell the Komen Foundation where your money went.
Donate to Planned Parenthood. The obvious choice is to compensate for what Planned Parenthood has lost. The organization received $680,000 from Susan G. Komen last year alone, and virtually every dollar was used for breast exams. That leaves a gaping hole in their funding. Help fill it here (and make sure to mark it “for mammograms”).
Support a breast cancer organization with some integrity. Not every organization will sell out women’s health to please anti-abortion rights legislators. Some anti-cancer advocacy groups make their feminist messages explicit and central. Breast Cancer Action, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and the Women’s Community Cancer Project are three that have genuinely feminist roots.
Help the women the Komen Foundation has ignored. Awareness isn’t enough—some women just can’t afford breast cancer screenings. Women of color and poor women will be hurt most by the foundation’s decision. Donating to places like the African American Breast Cancer Alliance or Black Women’s Health Imperative will help these women get the medical attention they need.
Prop up a pro-choice, pro-woman organization. A strike against Planned Parenthood is a strike against women’s health in general. If breast cancer is too specific a cause for you, donate to a women-centered organization that provides crucial sex and health information, like Our Bodies, Ourselves or the National Women’s Health Network.
Support your local women’s clinic. Planned Parenthood is the most ubiquitous group of health clinics in the country, but there are other local women’s health clinics that provide breast exams, and they’re likely struggling even more. Places like the Chicago Women’s Health Center or the Cedar River Clinics could really use some cash, too. Or donate to your local abortion fund—access to a safe abortion may be more of a political lightning rod than breast cancer screenings, but it’s no less essential.
At the center of this debacle are, of course, the poor, often rural women who rely on the free or low-cost clinical breast exams, referrals and followup provided by Planned Parenthood. By Komen’s own account, socioeconomic factors (translation: being po’) are likely contributors to the high breast cancer mortality rates of black and Latina women.
In spite of the fact that it’s clear Komen for the Cure has prioritized fetuses over women, they’re in damage control mode now, insisting in the face of evidence to the contrary that their actions are the result of high-minded concern for women and not mythology-based concern for ideology.
They have updated their Facebook page - but commenters still are not buying the B.S.
As of this post’s writing, there have been over 1,000 comments on that Komen post alone, most of them negative, many of them promising to withdraw financial support, which, according to whoever wrote Komen’s defense, is “hurting women.”
With this maneuver, though, Komen for the Cure’s anti-choice political agenda appears to have backfired. Planned Parenthood’s been flooded with support and promises for contributions from supporters. The organization doesn’t yet have figures on how much money flowed in from donors over the last 24 hours, but we’ll keep you up to speed.
In the meantime, the family planning organization has launched a Breast Health Emergency Fund to assure that services for low income women aren’t interrupted, because unlike Susan G Komen For the Cure, cancer doesn’t care if you’re poor or pro-choice.
In the end, the grant money is less important than the symbolism of Komen buying into the conservative myth of good-girl health care vs. bad-girl health care. In reality, women’s health care can only work if it’s comprehensive health care. Komen has already been under serious scrutiny by those who argue that the organization cares more about shoring up their image than making real progress in the fight for women’s health, and with this move today, they proved their critics right.
So Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure today announced that they will no longer give any funding to Planned Parenthood.
This funding allowed Planned Parenthood to provide breast examinations and referrals for mammography and ultrasound to patients at their health centers, patients who were able to be seen and treated at Planned Parenthood regardless of income or insurance, because of Planned Parenthood’s sliding scale fees and commitment to treating as many people as possible.
In the aftermath of this, which has turned into a flurry of opinion and counter-opinion, deleted comments on Komen’s Facebook wall, and a tweetstorm of epic proportion, some salient points worth consideration:
While pressuring Komen to reverse this decision is an option (and there is already an online petition going for that purpose) it seems unlikely to be effective. I am decidedly pessimistic about Komen walking back from this precipice.
Komen has said that this decision arose from a new policy of not funding any organization that is under government investigation. Since Planned Parenthood was already under investigation when the policy was changed, it’s pretty clear that the policy was targeting PP.
Moreover, this Komen policy and the subsequent de-funding came quickly behind the hiring of Karen Handel as Komen’s Senior Vice President for Public Policy. Those in Georgia recall that in 2010 Handel ran for governor of Georgia with a extremely anti-choice platform. This woman is responsible for policy decisions for Komen, and she is clearly opposed to Planned Parenthood.
And we cannot forget that the founder of Komen, Nancy Brinker, has long been tied to the highest ranks of Republican politics.
Komen didn’t cave to external pressure from the right wing, because the right wing is intrinsic to the executive power structure of Komen.
Those who rely upon Planned Parenthood as their health provider, who still need breast examinations, who still need funded referrals when there is an issue, well, they’re collateral damage in a culture war that begin more than 30 years ago and has always had its sights set not just on Planned Parenthood but any organization that supported or affiliated with them.
So where do we go from here?
Well we give Komen the business. We email (firstname.lastname@example.org), we tweet (@komenforthecure), we call (972-701-2168). We absolutely refuse to donate, not directly, not by buying pink ribbon festooned (and pinkwashed) products, not by sponsoring someone for a 5K or a 3 day walk. So long as Komen plays politics with human lives, they should not see another single penny of our money.
But more importantly, far more importantly, we do donate to Planned Parenthood, we go over and above the money that they will lose because of Komen, we get every penny we can to Planned Parenthood to ensure that no one will go without a needed cancer screening, no one’s life will be placed at risk because of where they get their medical care.
Planned Parenthood — and its clients, by extension — must be our primary concern and our primary focus. The political battle will always be there, it can be put on hold for a while. The patients whose care is hanging in the balance cannot wait.
We must keep our focus, we must redouble our commitment, we must step into the breech.
Join me in making a tax-deductible donation to Planned Parenthood right now.
FUCK YEAH, AMADI!