Post 2.15 - Running Path

We are in the thick of the race for President here in the United States, but the ongoing circus that has been the selection process for the Republican candidate has not been the only news. Last week, in the continuing War on Women, a leading breast-cancer focused charity, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure announced that it would no longer provide grants to Planned Parenthood ("PP"), the leading provider of women's health services to poor and underserved populations in the U.S. The Komen organization stated that their new criteria for providing funds to other organizations required that such organizations not be under federal or state investigation, and PP is currently under such investigation.

The reaction to this decision and the "criteria" has been swift and vocal, both from pundits and the general public, and the Komen organization has been forced to reverse their decision. The damage, however, has been done.

So why did this all happen?

PP also happens to be the largest organization to provide abortions. The Komen organization recently hired a new vice-president who is a former political candidate for governor of Georgia, and she is decidedly anti-choice and ran on a platform of defunding PP in her last campaign. Buoyed by the successful pressure to reverse Komen's funding decision, activists on the political left are now pressuring that this vice-president be terminated.

It's a mess.

On the one hand, private organizations like Komen are allowed to give or not give money to anyone they want. On the other, Komen has supported PP for years, as the funds for PP were specifically designated for low-cost and free cancer screenings, not abortions. These screenings are vital to the early detection and treatment of breast cancer, and offer the needy the only avenue to such care in many cases. The "investigation" of PP is politically motivated, and is not criminal in nature, and such "investigations" can be initiated by any legislator looking to make a name for him- or herself with their largely Republican and/or conservative constituency. PP has been under constant attack since the Republicans won control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Breast cancer runs in my family. I even have a male cousin who is a breast cancer survivor. It is a serious health concern, and women should have access to as many resources as possible. PP may represent the largest network of abortion providers, but abortions account for only 3% of their activity. In many areas, PP offers the only low-cost medical services for women of any kind. But all of this comes down to the basic difference between liberals and conservatives at the core of the Democrat and Republican parties, respectively: despite any "libertarians" on the Republican side who often tout the benefits of "smaller government", they are not happy unless they get to decide how everyone is supposed to live. Liberals are always on the side of civil rights, whether they be for women or minorities or laborers or even children, while conservatives are always in favor of a hierarchy which diminishes one group in favor of another.

And you can review American history and find example after example. You will always find the liberals on the side of equality and fairness, and conservatives on the side of denying rights or favoring one group over another. The arguments may evolve, but the pattern is always the same.

The Komen PP debacle highlights a lot of issues on several fronts, but here are just a few:
  1. Politics do not belong in healthcare. The vast majority of PP's services - 97% - do not involve abortion, but do involve scores of needy and underserved women. The public at-large recognized this situation for what it was, and reacted accordingly.
  2. Organizations like PP need to exist because the U.S. continues to support a fee-for-service model of healthcare.
  3. Organizations like PP and Komen need to exist to represent and advocate for women's health interests, which are grossly underserved by our state and federal legislators.
Komen may be irreparably damaged by these events, but it will hopefully be a learning experience for organizations that operate in these spheres. The work has to go on, the support has to go on, and politics need to stay out of it.


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