I’ve had a couple of days to think about the betrayal of the Susan G. Komen Foundation to women and of the importance of Planned Parenthood. I think people are quick to buy into the idea that supporters of Planned Parenthood and women’s rights won the battle. It makes me sad that there is one organization who has done a lot for women’s breast health pitted against another organization that is committed to women’s health overall.
First- this is a larger war going on over women’s right to make choices for their bodies than just the Komen Foundation versus Planned Parenthood.
Second- the battle for Planned Parenthood was not won. I don’t believe the Komen Foundation will continue to fund Planned Parenthood.
On my first point, I am not being dramatic when I say a war has been waged on women’s health and women’s rights. We have worked so hard to make gains for women to be considered equal citizens to men, but because that threatens the entire system of patriarchy (which gives men certain benefits and privilege), some people have been fighting against it.
Right now, the extreme right wing has organized using the internet and social media networks around reproductive freedom issues like abortion to get men and women alike to protest women having choice about their own bodies. Back in the day, women and children were considered property just as were animals and things were considered property. As property, we did not have rights. We could not own property. We could not vote. We could not participate in government. We had no say so for our bodies or our lives. Right now we are headed that way again as we have a movement to take away the rights of women.
The U.S. has been really good at pointing fingers at extreme Muslim countries where women cannot decide what to wear, whether they want to work, who to marry, if they can drive and generally have very little say-so about their lives. Unfortunately, we aren’t that far away from the American version of that kind of life. This is a war against women being free and participating members of the society.
What I heard Nancy Brinker say in an interview with Andrea Mitchell when she was backtracking on what had been previously said, was this: the Planned Parenthoods won’t be defunded all at once because their grant cycles have to run their course. When those grants run out, Planned Parenthood can apply again, but if there are other places the Komen Foundation feels will serve people better, those Planned Parenthoods won’t be funded.
I have been trying to find the full interview to watch again and link to this blog, but somehow, it’s hard to find the whole thing. I found a piece of it and a transcript. But, from the transcript, I cut and paste the pieces of the interview
Nancy Brinker: “We are not de-funding Planned Parenthood. We have three grants that will go on this year and they will probably be eligible for the next grant cycle.
and a little later in the interview:
Brinker: . . . Many of the grants we were doing with Planned Parenthood do not meet new standards of criteria for how we can measure our reults and effectiveness in communities. That is not to say that if they did meet those criteria they would not be welcome to submit it . . .
Well, you always have to reapply for grants, but if you have served women well, given hundreds of thousands of breast exams in that grant cycle and provided information about breast health and cancer risk and you have gotten the grants every time until now, there is no need to think you wouldn’t get them again. Until now.
*Komen says they’ll preserve Planned Parenthood’s “eligibility to apply”- Hello, keeping them “eligible to apply” isn’t the same as funding them for the work they have been doing. I don’t necessarily think this is a WIN, I think it’s a twist of the original message: we’re defunding you. They’re saying it to not lose people’s support and money, as well as to make this issue go away.
This is a sad turn for the movement to fight breast cancer, the fight for women’s rights, and for women’s health care. It is absolutely about politics and money. I understand they might not want to be in the midst of an abortion debate the right wing insists on using to take away women’s rights, but this is about women’s health, women’s healthcare, and women’s right to be human and make our own choices for our bodies. An organization supposedly fighting for women, can’t simultaneously be against us. It’s doesn’t work, so ultimately they are fighting against women. And obviously it’s suspicious that Karen Handle is a huge advocate for anti-choice. Komen’s political agenda is questionable when the Foundation says they support women’s health.
YO- It’s not healthy for me to Not be able to make choices for myself!
Grrl Code: Women need to be able to make choices for our bodies or we are further classified as second-class citizens who can’t make any decisions for ourselves. If we don’t want to have an abortion, we need to be able to say we don’t want to, but if we want to, for whatever reason, we also need to be able to say we do. This is about keeping women human so we can do things we want in this world, so we can make all kinds of choices for our lives and so we are not seen as property who can be treated inhumanely and consequently treated violently. Help women understand this. It’s not just about abortion, it’s about women making decisions for ourselves.