Unapologetic progressive. Fearless activist. Plucky liberal.

Posts tagged ‘Planned Parenthood’

Susan G. Komen for the Cure puts politics ahead of women’s health

The women’s health community was blindsided this week by the news that a former ally had turned its back on the women it purports to help. Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest nonprofit focused on breast cancer in the United States, has said it will pull grants totaling nearly $700,000 that go to breast cancer screenings and mammogram referrals from Planned Parenthood.


Anti-choice politics. It turns out Komen’s founder, Nancy G. Brinker, is a huge George W. Bush supporter, and a senior official, Karen Handel, campaigned for governor of Georgia as a fierce Planned Parenthood opponent. Supposedly Komen has a new rule about not donating to organizations that are under investigation by the U.S. government. The only reason anti-choice politicians want to investigate Planned Parenthood is because they claim federal money intended for the 97 percent of PP’s non-abortion-related services is fungible (i.e., a saintly taxpayer’s pure dollar intended for cancer screening could accidentally come into contact with a dirty whore’s abortion money).

This, despite the fact that money wasn’t being used for abortion. This, despite the fact there’s no link between abortion and breast cancer. This, despite the fact so many low-income women have nowhere but Planned Parenthood to go for breast health. This, despite the fact if you want to shun women who have abortions, you’ll be ignoring one-third of us.

How very “pro-life” to deny money for life-saving screenings.

I have not supported Komen in the past, as I’m not close with anyone who has struggled with breast cancer and been a fan of the foundation.* Honestly, I’m a little tired of facing “pink October” and seeing “save the tatas” paraphernalia. Shouldn’t we be focused on, I don’t know — saving women’s lives? I have no doubt choosing a mastectomy is gut-wrenching, but as high-profile cases such as Christina Applegate and Giuliana Rancic show, most women would rather lose their breasts than their lives. (For more of a great long read on this topic, check out Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Welcome to Cancerland.”)

asiangrrlMN adds:

The real issue I have with the Race for the Cure, though, and other charity events like it is that so little of their money goes to what they actually purport to be advocating.  In the case of the Komen Foundation, their express purpose is finding a cure for breast cancer.  Yet, according to their fund report from 2009, only 17% of the money they received/earned went to funding cancer research.  As the author in the aforementioned link notes, they did other worthwhile things with their money, but still.  17% for the actual cause of the charity?  In addition, also according to the link, the Komen Foundation is notorious for suing any charity, no matter how small, who has ‘for the cure’ in its name.  How is that effective use of donation money, really?

Komen representatives seemed unprepared for the backlash and refused to answer repeated questions from the press. Negative comments are being deleted from the Facebook page. A nonprofit PR expert explains this is how not to run a nonprofit in The Accidental Rebranding of Komen for the Cure.

I hope Komen does restore funding to Planned Parenthood, but for me, and a lot of other people, the damage is done. We have seen what Komen’s priorities are, and they don’t include women’s health care.

A line has been drawn in the sand. Do you stand with women and Planned Parenthood?

Or do you stand with radical ideology and Susan G. Komen for the Cure?

ETA: If you’ve previously donated to Komen and would like a list of alternatives, check out Five Ways to Support Women’s Health for All.

*This originally said I don’t know anyone personally who has had breast cancer. I have been corrected in the comments below.



Make sure HHS has American women covered

There was good news in the reproductive rights movement this week. The Institute of Medicine has recommended that birth control be a preventive service that insurance companies must cover with no co-pays under the Affordable Care Act. Now it’s up to the Department of Health and Human Services, led by Kathleen Sebelius, to enforce that recommendation.

Almost every woman I know has used birth control at some point in her life. My own parents delayed starting their family for more than a decade, enjoying their careers and being together before deciding to have kids. Birth control has near universal use (99 percent) among women of childbearing age, according to the Guttmacher Institute. And considering women are capable of becoming pregnant for more than 30 years of their lives, that adds up to a lot of medical costs.

The panel also recommended covering domestic violence counseling, sexually transmitted infection and HIV testing, cervical cancer screenings and an annual well-woman visit. Pregnant women would have greater access to gestational diabetes screening and more help with lactation counseling and equipment. Women’s health care would take a huge step forward if these recommendations were adopted.

I’ve written before about making birth control free, as have the wonderful writers at Feministing (“Opposing birth control coverage should be as ridiculous as hating puppies”). It’s the most commonsense thing we can do to prevent unplanned pregnancies and make women, children and families healthier. Conservatives should be on board because it would save $4 for every $1 spent and reduce the number of abortions. Don’t expect them to be leading the charge, however. Anti-choice activists consider contraception to be an abortifacient (despite the fact the medical community disagrees) and think people who aren’t married shouldn’t need birth control because they shouldn’t be having sex.

So it’s up to those of us who believe in science and care about women to take up this fight. Sebelius is expected to make a decision in the next couple of weeks. Please sign the petition by Planned Parenthood urging birth control without co-pays. This could be a major victory in a year that has seen more anti-women and anti-choice bills pass state legislatures than ever before.

Judge grants injunction to Planned Parenthood of Indiana

I was very pleased to get this e-mail tonight after writing about this Wednesday:

Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) is thrilled to announce that U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt has granted its motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the enforcement of the new dangerous state law that strips Medicaid funding from PPIN. 

The decision comes after a rocky week for PPIN. The organization had to stop seeing Medicaid patients Tuesday, lay off two employees, and furlough all employees for one day.

The injunction is excellent news for the organization. It means that PPIN can once again be reimbursed for the preventive health care it provides its 9,300 Medicaid patients and is now restored as a preferred provider under Medicaid and will remain as such as the lawsuit continues and until a final resolution is reached.  

“This decision will have immediate, positive consequences for our patients and our organization, the state’s largest reproductive health care provider,” said PPIN President and CEO Betty Cockrum.  “This ruling means we can once again provide Pap tests, breast exams, STD testing and treatment and birth control to both existing and new Medicaid patients.  It also means that we have avoided the difficult decision to close health centers and lay off more staff members while the permanent injunction we are seeking is pending.”

PPIN is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU of Indiana) and the case is being led by Legal Director Ken Falk. 

“This is a positive step in what likely will be a long legal battle,” Falk said.  “We are encouraged by the judge’s ruling, but know our work is not yet done.” 

PPIN also contended that thanks to HEA 1210, its health care professionals would be forced to make statements to patients that are not medically and scientifically based, also in violation of the U.S. Constitution.  Judge Pratt agreed and ruled that portions of the law requiring medical professionals to say that a fetus can feel pain at or before 20 weeks post-fertilization will not go into effect July 1.  However, a portion requiring that medical professionals tell a woman that human physical life begins at conception must be implemented.   

 I wish this decision had been made last month, and that the language about life beginning at conception had been struck down, but this is progress. I know 9,300 Hoosiers are very relieved tonight.

Indiana denies health care to 9,300 patients

That’s what happened when Planned Parenthood of Indiana ran out of money this week to treat Medicaid patients — 9,300 people now have no way to access their regular health care provider. A state law ended funding in May, but an outpouring of private donations provided money for another month. About 9,300  of PPIN’s 85,000 patients depend on Medicaid to pay their bills. Without that money, they can’t be treated. And if a judge rules against PPIN in a lawsuit it’s brought against the state, most or all of the Hoosiers who depend on Planned Parenthood could lose their health care provider. PPIN will be forced to close some of its 28 clinics and lay off workers.

All because Planned Parenthood provides a legal medical procedure — abortion. But even though money to pay for abortions comes from private donors, and abortions haven’t been paid for with government funds since the 1970s, conservatives in both parties are determined to punish PPIN for even providing abortions by taking away its funding for services such as pap smears, birth control, STI testing and cancer screening.

Guess what happens when low-income women don’t have access to birth control? They get pregnant. Guess what happens when they can’t abort the fetuses? They give birth. Guess what happens when they can’t afford to pay for those children? They go on welfare — and end up costing the state thousands of dollars more than the original birth control would have cost.

This is not rocket science. If you want to lower the abortion rate and number of people on government assistance, GIVE THEM BIRTH CONTROL. Provide them with health care to take care of routine medical problems instead of making them wait until the problem is serious enough to end up in the emergency room. Help them treat that sexually transmitted infection so it doesn’t spread to more people. Save their lives by giving AIDS and cancer tests.

All of this is common sense. Study after study shows that for every dollar spent on family planning, the government saves nearly $4. Communities worldwide are healthier when women have the power to plan if, when and how they will have children. Indiana, along with Kansas and North Carolina, which have also moved to defund Planned Parenthood, is just shooting itself in the foot by denying women and men routine reproductive health care.

Family planning needs more funding, not less

From the Guttmacher Institute, a leading authority on reproductive health and research, comes the news that unintended pregnancies cost the United States $11 billion each year. And the group says that’s a conservative estimate. Its study says about two-thirds of unintended pregnancies are publicly funded. A similar study by the Brookings Institute finds the United States could save $5.6 billion each year by preventing those pregnancies.

The way to do that is to make birth control free and easy to access, but conservative, anti-choice legislators are doing the exact opposite. They are doing their best to take away any options a poor woman might have to advance her life: they’ve blocked her access to birth control; blocked her access to abortion; blocked her access to WIC funds; and blocked her access to education. They seem determined that poor women should stay poor. It’s sickening these people claim to have “family values” while passing laws that do nothing but burden low- and middle-income families. They’re cutting funding now that will raise costs later, but they should be increasing funding now to cut costs later.

They’re putting politics over women’s health and safety, and it’s time to let them know we won’t stand for it. You can contact Kathleen Sebelius, secretary for Health and Human Services, at the HHS website. Tell her that under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies must be compelled to provide free birth control. Not only does it make fiscal sense, it makes healthier women and families.

It sucks to be poor in Indiana

On Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed HEA 1210 , which denies Planned Parenthood of Indiana any government money. Because it’s illegal to discriminate against specific organizations, Indiana will also lose millions of dollars of general family planning money. And today U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt refused to grant PP a restraining order that would halt implementation of the law.

Planned Parenthood serves women and men who have no other health care options, either because they don’t have insurance or don’t have money. It provides birth control, Pap smears, vasectomies, STI testing and cancer screenings. And yes, at some clinics it provides abortions, but it does not receive funding for it, and abortion accounts for only 6 percent of PP’s services in Indiana and 3 percent nationally. And although Daniels and other conservatives claim there are medical providers who can fill the void left by PP, that’s not true. If it wasn’t true in the Dallas metro area, it’s not going to be true in rural Indiana, especially since all federal family planning money has been cut off.

Once again, Republicans (and now judges) put politics above women’s health care. They don’t care about their constituents for whom Planned Parenthood is the only affordable option. They don’t care that providing women with free, easily accessible birth control reduces abortions. They don’t care that regular family planning improves not only women’s lives, but whole communities. They are determined that all women of child-bearing age live in fear of becoming pregnant, and won’t have access to prenatal care even if they do want to become pregnant.

Some of the language written into HEA 1210 actually requires doctors to lie to women who seek abortions by saying life begins at fertilization and fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. Dr. Andrew P. Loehrer, Indiana director of Doctors for America, is “appalled at this legislative encroachment into the doctor-patient relationship and overtly political disregard for the economic and public health of Hoosiers.”

As state Sen. Vi Simpson wrote in the Indianapolis Star Monday, every claim that HEA 1210 proponents made about it is untrue. She said:

In his zeal to forward his own agenda, Schneider has missed the real threat to society. Lack of affordable health care and family planning will add to our costs — more children born in poverty, more women with expensive and deadly diseases, and yes, more abortions. These costs to society cannot be measured.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana is seeking help as it mounts its legal challenge against HEA 1210 and does its best to provide uninterrupted service to its patients. I think I’m going to donate in honor of Daniels and have PP send him a thank-you card.