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Shades of Pink: Komen and Planned Parenthood

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Most of you are familiar with the disaster Susan G. Komen for the Cure brought upon themselves by announcing they were cutting funding to Planned Parenthood. I was really angry and disappointed in Komen's decision to pull funds from Planned Parenthood for a program that provides breast cancer screenings primarily for low income women. Komen's reversal of that decision was the right thing to do, but we'll see what this does to Komen's donation levels over the next few months. They've broken a trust with the women and men who have supported and relied on the work Komen does.

But the dust is not settling yet over this issue. Now Karen Handel, who resigned from Komen over this situation, has come out in an interview on The Daily Beast and claimed that Planned Parenthood is bullying Komen. She claims that Komen and Planned Parenthood had a "ladies agreement" which included not going to the press with the defunding announcement. According to Handel, Planned Parenthood launched "Armageddon" with a social media firestorm. Planned Parenthood denies this. And so the beat goes on.

The outpouring of donations to Planned Parenthood since the Komen announcement is heartening. No matter what the Republican presidential candidates and other politicians would have us believe, there is a strong base of support for all the work Planned Parenthood does.Their attempts to pigeonhole the organization as strictly an abortion provider is blatantly false. What's more important is that people see through that characterization.

The abortion issue has gotten out of control. I wrote earlier this month about the Republican presidential candidates' narrow focus on birth control and abortion as the only issues affecting women. It seems that things are reaching such a fever pitch that organizations like Komen can't or won't remain neutral on abortion. Komen denies that pulling funding from Planned Parenthood was politically motivated and tied to the abortion debate. I just don't believe that.

I hate that I just wrote the words abortion debate. There really is no debate. Roe v. Wade is law and has been for almost 40 years. Rick Santorum has said that a woman who becomes pregnant because she was raped should have the baby. He says that "women should make the best out of a bad situation." I don't think Santorum will win the Republican primary or become president, but statements like the one above smack of self-righteousness and true ignorance of the damage rape does to women. It also points to the fact that there doesn't seem to be any middle ground in discussing abortion in this country. And frankly, I am tired of this controversy. It's a private matter for women and those she chooses to share with. The laws in this country are not dictated by religious beliefs, no matter how powerful the beliefs of those running for public office.

It's imperative that non-profit organizations like Komen not enter the political fray. I support Planned Parenthood for the range of services they provide women and men. I'm not sure how we conduct a civil discourse concerning a woman's right to choose. I know that my feelings run high in protecting a woman's right to decide when and if she'll have children. I've organized and attended rallies, helped keep clinics open, donated money, written countless letters and emails and signed many petitions. I am resolute on this issue. And because we've got such a polarity, I'm sure the other side is just as intractable. I'm don't know how we bridge this.

I really do hope that organizations like Komen can do their good work without picking sides. That, in turn, will allow Planned Parenthood and others to continue offering their crucial services. But given the current turn of events, we've clearly got a long way to go.

Here's a video follow up from The Daily Beast interview:

This article has been reprinted from betweenparents.org.

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