I've been reluctant to post on the whole Susan G. Komen/Planned Parenthood debacle because I kept feeling like there was information I didn't have. Some of my questions have been answered in the past few days. We now know that:
- Only 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates received grants from Komen. Most PP facilities, and the breast exams and referrals they offer, were not affected.
- Some of these grants were "pass-through" grants that were used to pay for mammograms at facilities to which PP referred patients. Some were for manual exams, referrals, and education. The "pass-through" grants were to be restructured so that instead the mammogram providers would be paid directly, which doesn't strike me as a problem.
- By Nancy Brinker's own account, many women rely on PP for basic health care services, and to refuse to fund PP in those circumstances would be to "turn our backs on those women." Komen's announcement did not address their apparent change of mind on that subject (although in fairness, they were planning to continue funding three PP affiliates, probably because there were literally no other options in those areas).
- Most of the women who are seen by PP are not in the age group most at risk for cancer (though the education would probably be of use to them later in life).
What's still not clear to me is how much PP's ability to provide breast exams and referrals would have been affected by the loss of this money. If someone is seeing a provider anyway, it doesn't seem to add any cost to also have them do an exam, but I may well be missing something there.
To the extent that women are relying on Planned Parenthood for essential breast health care, pro-lifers who want to promote breast health have three options:
- Support those women getting breast health care at PP.
- Provide a viable alternative: a clinic where women can get affordable comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care, but that doesn't do abortions.
- Leave those particular women to rely solely on donations and services from pro-choicers – which has the side effect of teaching them that abortion proponents are the only people who care about their health.
I'd rather women didn't get their health care from a provider that also performs and lobbies for abortion. I'd rather they didn't have to. But many women do, and pro-lifers needs to ask themselves why. To me, the real outrage in this whole episode is this:
"The grants in question supplied breast health counseling, screening, and treatment to rural women, poor women, Native American women, many women of color who were underserved–if served at all–in areas where Planned Parenthood facilities were often the only infrastructure available. Though it meant losing corporate money from Curves, we were not about to turn our backs on these women."
That was Susan G. Komen founder Nancy Brinker in 2010, explaining why Komen funded Planned Parenthood. Areas where Planned Parenthood facilities were often the only infrastructure available. If you don't want money to go to Planned Parenthood – fix that.
3 thoughts on “Susan G. Komen, Planned Parenthood, and — oh, yeah — women”
In confirmation of your paren, Komen spokespeople did specifically say that those continuing grants were due to not having an alternative provider for those services in the areas of those affiliates. So they never were going to cut off women from receiving needed services.
Jen, thanks for making these excellent points. I want to add a brief analysis of why these gaps in breast health coverage exist to begin with. Uninsured women and women on Medicaid have more difficulty getting referrals, and prompt ones, for diagnostic mammography. At the same time, the number of people without private health plans or any at all is escalating. And more younger women are developing breast cancer, possibly because of environmental toxins. Meanwhile a bunch of politicians-some of whom designate themselves "prolife"-are eager to slash funds for community health centers and other health programs for low-income people. If poor women's need for breast health services and other health needs had already been met, this uproar would have never happened. If only the US would remember to take its abortion-furor prevention pills every day…and if prolifers would take up your challenge, right about yesterday.
Thanks, Bill. I hate that anyone's in the situation where PP is their only option.
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