There is, I believe, a certain amount of denied misogyny in the battle against Planned Parenthood. As most people know, Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of women’s health services in the United States. Three million women are served by its doctors, nurses, and counselors every year. Many of them turn to Planned Parenthood for screenings and treatment after being turned down for their inability to pay more profit-oriented providers. By their very nature, Planned Parenthood affiliates are also the largest single provider of abortion services. To put this into perspective, 3% of Planned Parenthood’s work is abortion related. The other 97% includes medical services for such things as pap smears, mammograms, sexually transmitted diseases, and contraception counseling.
Breast cancer knows no political boundaries. It affects rich and poor, Republicans and Democrats, alike. The person responsible for this policy seems to be Karen Handel, a failed Republican candidate for Governor of Georgia in 2010. Handel trumpeted her opposition to reproductive rights, as well as her embrace of photo ID voter laws, which have been used to suppress voter turnout. The Komen Foundation probably made a fatal mistake in hiring her. I hope that they are now wise enough to recognize their mistake and fire her before she does further damage.
Those of us whose lives have been torn apart by breast cancer have seen the search for a cure as nonpartisan: we want to support as many people as possible who are either, living with breast cancer, treating people with it, or doing research to find a cure. Many of us already support Planned Parenthood, and will continue doing so.
There are plenty of races to enter. The Race for the Cure brought many of us together in shared purpose, particularly as we watched women in “survivor shirts” or wearing hats and scarves because of hair loss due to chemotherapy. It remains to be seen what the effects of this debacle will be. Certainly, many of us will think twice before raising funds for Komen, when there are other ways of donating to the cause.
I hope that the national response to this incident will lead self-righteous politicians to think twice about their efforts to destroy Planned Parenthood, and to wage their ugly war against reproductive rights. Women’s health is too important to be treated like a kickball for misogynists. It is time to end this perverse and politically motivated game of attacking Planned Parenthood, and others who provide essential medical services to women.
Stan Sears, Minister