Friday, February 3, 2012

Race for a Political Cause

I am utterly heartbroken about the decision by the Susan G. Komen Fund to stop payments to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings.  Since 2006, I have been an active fundraiser for the organization, and while $300-$500 per year may be a drop in the bucket, that's still a couple thousand dollars for my local affiliate that is used to finance women's health care in mammography, early detection programs, and educational programs.  Until, that is they pulled funding from the non-profit that is best equiped to deliver these services.

Okay.  Planned Parenthood offers abortions.  I get that.  If you don't like abortions, you don't like Planned Parenthood.  But until you lash out against them, what is the alternative?  What other medical provider offers low-cost or no-cost medical screenings to low-income women?  Your stunned silence is indicative of the problem.  There is none.  For someone who works, it is easy to earn more than the maximum that would qualify one for Medicaid, and if you are self-employed or work multiple jobs, health insurance may be out of reach.  If you've turned on the TV since 2008, you would know that we are in a health care crisis in the United States, mainly because of the high cost of insurance and preventative treatments.

Planned Parenthood has always been around for women who are in the gap between self-sufficiency and adequate income for health insurance.  The reason you often see clinics in college towns is their reputation, not for abortion services, but for low cost access to The Pill.  As part of that, women are receiving the annual exams that are critical to early detection of certain cancers, including breast cancer.  What a perfect opportunity for a charity whose mission is to provide preventative care and educational services regarding womens health issues!  Or, not.  And if not, then what is the purpose of the Komen Fund?

I currently live in a state where the only guaranteed health care is the emergency room of the county hospital, and you better be bleeding out of your eyes in order to be seen.  Otherwise, you are paying for health care through insurance, or the full price of a procedure which is never disclosed until the bill is presented.  Take away the one clinic in the county where the cost is negotiable, and I have no free/cheap access to health care.  There is no alternative.

No, I don't like abortion, but I will admit that there are too many complications in the world to ban it.  Women will still seek it out, so it should be safe.  If raising a child (or, most often, another child) were free, if screening procedures didn't exist to diagnose unviable fetuses (who wants to watch their child die of Tey-Sachs?), if women didn't die from pregnancies, then I might be sympathetic to the Pro-Life movement.  But the world is a complicated, messy place, and black and white declarations of right and wrong show a willful ignorance about the scope of this issue.  The fact that the Komen Fund capitulated without consulting its donors is shameful, which makes me wonder what I was working for all these years.

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