Earlier today, Planned Parenthood announced that the Susan G Komen for the Cure foundation has decided to halt all funding for breast cancer screenings conducted at Planned Parenthood health centers due to increased pressure from anti-abortion groups.
According to a message posted on the Planned Parenthood website:
Over the past five years, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation funds have enabled Planned Parenthood health centers to provide nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and referrals for more than 6,400 mammograms. These cancer detection and prevention programs saved the lives of women who often had nowhere else to turn for care.
Now, after facing criticism from anti-choice, anti-women’s health groups, the Komen Foundation has decided to stop supporting women seeking care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
Needless to say, I find this absolutely infuriating. I have been a patient at Planned Parenthood for the past 10 years, since I turned 19 years old and went there for my first annual exam and PAP. As a woman without access to affordable health care, Planned Parenthood has been my only source of consistent health care. I’ve gone there diligently, every year, for my annual exam and cancer screenings. I have a long history of fibroid tumors in my family, and receiving hormonal birth control from Planned Parenthood has spared me from countless agonizing symptoms. I’ve developed a rapport with my practitioner at the local clinic, and I know I can ask her for advice regarding just about any health issue. If I have a question she can’t answer, or a problem she can’t address, I can get her professional referral.
To say I’m dismayed at the decision of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation would be a gross understatement. The way I see it is this: you either support women’s health programs, or you don’t. In the 10 years I’ve been a patient with Planned Parenthood, I’ve never had a decision forced on me. I was the one who determined I didn’t want to become pregnant. I was the one who decided to go on hormonal birth control. I was the one who chose what form of HBC I wanted. All Planned Parenthood did was provide me with options, and educate me on both the benefits and risks of those options. Largely in due part to the services provided by Planned Parenthood, I have never been pregnant. I’ve never had an abortion. Yet, according to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, I don’t deserve access to these valuable services, because I receive them from a provider that also offers abortions/abortion referral services.
I posted the following to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure facebook wall:
I am beyond disappointed to learn that you have pulled funding from Planned Parenthood. As a woman without access to affordable health insurance, Planned Parenthood has been my *only* source for valuable cancer screenings for the last 10 years. If you were really concerned with women’s health, you would know that Planned Parenthood provides a variety of vital services to help women maintain their overall health. In your info, you state “Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever.”. “…do everything besides providing valuable funding for cancer screenings to those you don’t agree with politically” seems to be more like it. Well, that goes both ways. Susan G. Komen for the Cure will no longer be receiving any support from me.
Of course, this brought out the trolls. One particularly noteworthy response:
I’ll admit, I’m not up on my abortion-related research. So I decided to do some digging. It didn’t take long, however. A quick Google search of “abortion cancer” brought me to the National Cancer Institute site; more specifically, the factsheet entitled “Abortion, Miscarriage, and Breast Cancer Risk“. According to the NCI:
The relationship between induced and spontaneous abortion and breast cancer risk has been the subject of extensive research beginning in the late 1950s. Until the mid-1990s, the evidence was inconsistent. Findings from some studies suggested there was no increase in risk of breast cancer among women who had had an abortion, while findings from other studies suggested there was an increased risk. Most of these studies, however, were flawed in a number of ways that can lead to unreliable results. Only a small number of women were included in many of these studies, and for most, the data were collected only after breast cancer had been diagnosed, and women’s histories of miscarriage and abortion were based on their “self-report” rather than on their medical records. Since then, better-designed studies have been conducted. These newer studies examined large numbers of women, collected data before breast cancer was found, and gathered medical history information from medical records rather than simply from self-reports, thereby generating more reliable findings. The newer studies consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk.(emphasis mine)
As far as the free clinics go, guess what? We don’t have one where I live. There may be 8,000 free clinics in the United States, but when you consider that there are 1003 towns and cities in my state alone, that really isn’t very many. As a matter of fact, there are 442 free clinics in New York State, and from what I can tell, all but maybe 3 of them are in New York City. I live approximately 90 miles from NYC. It’s a 2.5 hour commute in each direction. I don’t have a car, and I can’t afford the $50 for the round-trip bus ticket. In my town, we have some urgent care clinics, but they require payment in full at the time of service, and they don’t provide any preventative care services. With limited funds and no health insurance, if I want any sort of women’s health service, Planned Parenthood is literally my only option.
I know I’m not alone in this. It’s certainly not beyond me that the majority of Planned Parenthood patients are low income, and have limited resources. So it makes me wonder about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. What is it that they are really looking to do? It certainly doesn’t seem to me that they are concerned with promoting women’s health. If they were, they would not be revoking funding from such a crucial provider of women’s health services. The information on their Facebook page states:
Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. That promise is now Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a wonderful reflection of her.
Apparently, “everything in her power” does not include providing funding to organizations with differing political opinions than she holds.
As I stated earlier, Susan G. Komen for the Cure will no longer be receiving any support from me. Instead, I will choose to focus on organizations that care about providing comprehensive care for women, and that do not buckle to political pressure. If you agree, please consider doing one (or both) of the following:
Tell Susan G. Komen for the Cure that supporting women’s health is more than buying pink, or wearing a ribbon.