The Famous Breast Cancer Charity Throws Planned Parenthood Under the Bus

What Women Really Think
Jan. 31 2012 6:24 PM

Susan G. Komen's Act of Cowardice

Pink ribbon.
The nation's most famous breast cancer charity pulled its grants for screenings from Planned Parenthood

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

In a shocking move Tuesday afternoon, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the country's most famous breast cancer charity, pulled its grants for breast-cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood. Komen claims that their reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation from Congress, but as it's well-understood on both the left and the right that the investigation, headed by Rep. Cliff Stearns, is a nuisance investigation that will almost surely turn up nothing, this excuse sounds lame indeed. The likelier explanation is the one offered by Planned Parenthood, that Komen caved under relentless pressure from anti-choice activists who oppose Planned Parenthood for offering abortions as well as low-cost contraception and STD prevention and treatment. In addition, Komen has a history of not playing nice with other women's health organizations. Planned Parenthood has created an emergency fund to replace the Komen grants, to keep the breast-cancer screening service from being interrupted.

The existence of breast-cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood has always been a thorn in the anti-choice side. Most of Planned Parenthood's services are related to the choice to be sexually active---contraception, STD screening and treatment, cervical cancer screening---making it easy to write off those services as unnecessary if you follow the strict abstinence-only prescription the Christian right has for women. Breast cancer, however, can strike the lifelong virgin, the married woman who only has sex for procreation, and the dirty fornicator (i.e. the vast majority of American women) alike. Because of this, anti-choicers have tried to create a rift between women's health advocates who focus on breast cancer and those who focus on reproductive health concerns below the waist. Today, they had a victory with Komen's act of cowardice.

Advertisement

No matter how much anti-choicers wish otherwise, it's not feasible to create an approach to women's health that separates good girl concerns from bad girl concerns. For instance, many women land in gynocologist's offices seeking contraceptive services and cervical-cancer screenings, and doctors use that opportunity to teach the art of breast self-exam. As noted in my previous post on the Santorums' pregnancy troubles, even the world of the hated abortion provider and the much-vaunted obstetrician can't be so easily separated, as the latter is often called upon to have knowledge of pregnancy termination in case of a medical emergency.

In the end, the grant money is less important than the symbolism of Komen buying into the conservative myth of good-girl health care vs. bad-girl health care. In reality, women's health care can only work if it's comprehensive health care. Komen has already been under serious scrutiny by those who argue that the organization cares more about shoring up their image than making real progress in the fight for women's health, and with this move today, they proved their critics right.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
War Stories
Sept. 23 2014 4:04 PM The Right Target Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Outward
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:09 PM Vince Vaughn Will Star in True Detective Season 2
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 1:50 PM Oh, the Futility! Frogs Try to Catch Worms off of an iPhone Video.
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 23 2014 1:38 PM Why Is Fall Red in America but Yellow in Europe? A possible explanation, 35 million years in the making.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.