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“Good Girls” Vs “Bad Girls”: The Real Losers In The Susan G. Komen-Planned Parenthood Dispute

At first, it appeared that Planned Parenthood was the  loser in the dispute over funding breast cancer exams. Then, it appeared that  Planned Parenthood was the winner, receiving huge donations from supporters  furious over the fact that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation had cut  off funding for Planned Parenthood amid concerns that the latter was “under  investigation” for allegedly funneling federal monies to pay for abortions.

But there may be no real winner here. And the loser may  be women’s health.

On paper, the controversy has waned, largely due to a  speedy reaction  from backers of Planned Parenthood, which indeed provides  abortions  services but which also—and primarily—offers affordable healthcare for  women. The Susan G. Komen foundation, which had been giving grants to   Planned Parenthood, announced last week it would halt such grants  because the  women’s healthcare provider was “under investigation” by  Congress for misuse  of funds. The merits of that justification are  overwhelmed by the naivete of  it; any crank in Congress can start an  investigation into anything.  Congressional oversight has become  increasingly partisan and agenda-driven in  recent years (with a few  notable exceptions, including GOP Sen. Charles  Grassley, who has  conducted aggressive inquiries on important but non-attention  getting  matters regardless of which party has controlled the White House). But   for the most part, using the status of “under investigation” as a  barometer  of anything is laughable.

Then, the Susan G. Komen foundation (whose senior vice  president for  public policy, Karen Handel, is anti-abortion) changed its story,   saying it cut off funds because Planned Parenthood does not perform the  breast  exams itself, but merely refers women to places where the  procedures are done.  A lot of Planned Parenthood supporters didn’t buy  that flip flop, and  threatened to sever ties with the Komen group while  increasing donations to  Planned Parenthood. The Susan G. Komen  foundation then reversed its decision  entirely, announcing Friday it  would not ban Planned Parenthood from funding.

That sounds as though the fight is over (and that  both groups  might benefit from the increased attention). But disturbingly, a  wedge  campaign against women has been started, and is not likely to subside.

The undercurrent of the face-off was that there are two  kinds of  women—good girls, who have breasts that may become infected with   cancer, and bad girls, who have sex. The women who have breasts are  allowed to  be worried about getting a deadly disease, and so are  festooned with pink  ribbons and given both cash for research and  sympathy if they become ill. Women  with cancer get to be treated as  victims in need of financial and emotional  support. The bad women who  have sex are treated as though they are getting what  they deserve if  they become pregnant or get a sexually transmitted disease.

The bad women, the ones who have sex, are apparently  meant to be  punished. They can acquire birth control only in shame. And while   abortion is still legal, the bad women who have sex must be forced to go   through with unwanted pregnancies or endure a great deal of trouble  and expense  to get an abortion. The insult to women—that if females  were forced to think  about what they are doing before having an  abortion, the exercise would  surely make them change their minds—is  overwhelming. Women who believe  abortion is wrong won’t have one.  Making it harder for them to get an abortion  won’t make a difference.  Women—devout Catholics and others—who don’t  believe in birth control  won’t use it. Refusing to cover birth control as basic  women’s health,  or defunding organizations that supply birth control, won’t  mean  anything to those women.

But for those women who have sex and want to do so   responsibly—avoiding unwanted pregnancy and staying STD-free—birth  control  and sexual healthcare is critical. Planned Parenthood has been a  go-to place  for such healthcare for many women, particularly young  females with low  incomes and zero or inadequate health insurance.

The battle between Planned Parenthood and the Susan G.  Komen for the  Cure foundation may be technically over. But the effort to divide  women  over basic healthcare is in full force.

 

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, February 6, 2012

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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