To say that the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation had a tumultuous week at the start of February would be an understatement. They announced that they were revising their grant process, which essentially defunded Planned Parenthood — gratifying Pro-Lifers and enraging abortion supporters; and yet later seemed to backpedal, essentially bewildering everyone.
These grants in the name of “breast health” comprised more than $500,000 annually, and were curious from the start, since not a single Planned Parenthood outlet offers breast screenings. Almost all women who go to Planned Parenthood need one of two things: an abortion (91 percent of pregnant women who enter their clinics procure abortions) or some form of birth control. Unfortunately, both have been linked to breast cancer in numerous studies, meaning that the grants have been offered to a group with no mammogram machines and only questionable services that may add to the problem.
Unfortunately, Komen didn’t indicate that it had a principled objection to giving money to Planned Parenthood, but rather offered a two-fold explanation. They would no longer give funds to groups under investigation (Planned Parenthood is under scrutiny for Medicaid fraud, performing illegal abortions, and covering up incidents of statutory rape) and preferred to support only those groups that offer on-site mammograms.
The firestorm that subsequently erupted was illustrative of a few points. First, there is little gratitude in the ranks of abortion supporters. With nary a thank you for the millions received already, their fury was on display as they lashed out unrelentingly at Komen. Terry O’Neill of NOW declared that Komen was simply no longer a women’s health organization. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said, “We know our opponents put their ideology over women’s health and lives,” and said women are the targets of “the heartless campaigns of anti-choice groups.” Thus, instead of responding to the explanation, they brazenly insisted that they have a standing right to other people’s money.
Most absurd is the claim Pro-Lifers have engaged in “bullying tactics” and “politicization” of the issue — when the funding reversal brought out the very worst in their own side. Countering the encouragement from Pro-Lifers and a 100 percent increase in donations to Komen after the announcement, the harassment and media abuse that Komen received from incensed abortion-rights activists reached a frenzied pitch, demanding that they be heard and funding be restored — or else.
James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal likens Planned Parenthood’s campaign to “a protection racket” in which they threaten harm to Komen — and any other donors who think of pulling their funding. “Nice charity you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it.” The question is, will they be allowed to act this way — even holding our tax dollars hostage to their vitriol?
Finally, a new landscape is emerging where we find that those who claim to speak for women (Planned Parenthood, NOW, and other radical feminists) are found to be a smaller minority than previously thought. Gallup polls reveal that whereas 37 percent of women in 1996 considered themselves Pro-Life, that number had grown to 46 percent by 2010. The same span shows that women considering themselves pro-choice shrank from 56 percent to 45 percent.
No matter what either side says, it’s all political, for the polis — the public square — inevitably reflects the values of the community, and these things are worth fighting for. I find the words of Nancy Pelosi most ironic, as she noted, “When women speak out, women win.” True, but it will depend on how many stand up to let their voices be heard, and they might end up surprising the speaker by what they say.
[The Anchor 2.10.12]