Susan G. Komen’s Fall from Grace

On January 31st, 2012, Susan G. Komen for the Cure stripped Planned Parenthood of a $680,000 grant to provide breast screening services and mammogram referrals to low-income women. This abrupt move ended a 5-year partnership between America’s darling breast cancer charity and the nation’s leading service provider for women’s healthcare.

In the span of just 24 hours, the internet tore down, devoured, and spit out a non-profit charity organization who had surreptitiously began to deviate from its original mission of helping women and had slipped into incredibly dangerous political territory. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned-–especially if said woman is well-connected to social media.

The move ended with a complete decision reversal, the resignation of 5 top Komen executives, $3 million dollars raised for Planned Parenthood, irreparable betrayal of public trust, and one of the most impressive case studies of social media protest seen to date.

What happened? I’ll explain…

[details to come]

This is not about abortion—–you can scream and yell and argue until your face turns blue, but such a superficial take on the issue fundamentally misses the point. Women are becoming collateral damage in ideological wars over religion and politics. Enough is enough.

Any female with an ounce of empathy can see a bit of herself in the victims of the Komen decision. If you value your status as a healthcare recipient in this country and regard yourself as a member of the moral community, these policy decisions affect you.

Part of my empathetic understanding stems from my experience transitioning from a money-grubbing, filial maggot to a somewhat self-sufficient individual. In the summer of 2011, I was lucky to get hired by a big company with a competitive market share in a niche technology sector. No humble brag here—the job was anything but glamorous and my life suddenly began to suck. My free time was reduced one thousand-fold and rush hour traffic became the new bane of my existence. Such is life. But now I had my own office and big girl responsibilities and paid a handsome sum of money to Uncle Sam…I was finally an adult, damn it. Except the fact that I paid taxes meant that I now had a source of income, and this brand new stream of revenue that magically appeared in my bank account like a shiny pot of gold at the end of some biweekly corporate rainbow prompted my parents to cut me off. While I regarded my first paycheck with such caution and prudence you would think it was a bomb that was about to explode, I have no doubt in my mind that my parents treated themselves to some fanciful dinner, popped a bottle of Dom Pérignon in my honor, and perhaps even ended the night by buying a round of limoncello shots for the entire restaurant. Here’s to you, kid: welcome to the real world.

And in the real world, medical costs can be prohibitively expensive—–especially if you’re uninsured. Although I had coverage, I was still new to the city and had not yet found a general physician or women’s practitioner. On top of that, I found the cost of specialist co-pays burdensome. Where do you think I turned for basic healthcare? That’s right. The ubiquitous, friendly neighborhood clinic. A crazed woman speaking in tongues and violently fist-pumping a string of rosary beads into the air—–to the unanimous approval of her captive invisible audience—–assailed me from the sidewalk, shoving a Bible in my face as I attempted to enter the building. Relax, lady. I’m here to get my f@#%ing iron checked.

You can clutch your pearls atop a snowy white unicorn and fly to an alternative universe where only the “undesirables” require family planning or women’s wellness care. But you’re deluding yourself if you think that Planned Parenthood is somehow not “for women like you,” or that there is not a tremendous societal need for affordable, accessible healthcare. An estimated 1 in 5 women will visit a PP clinic in her lifetime. By stripping funds from an organization that provides an absolutely unparalleled service to the community, you’re waging an assault on women and families everywhere. And you’re damn right I’m going to call your ass out on it.

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