UPDATE 2/7 : Karen Handel resigned her position at Komen this morning, angrily claiming she was right, everyone else was wrong, and that she would be telling her side of the story. Oh sister, this plot just keeps thickening!
It’s been quite a week for the women of America, as two women’s health care icons, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and Planned Parenthood squared off. I’m not sure why Planned Parenthood waited so long to tell people the Komen Foundation had decided last December to discontinue funding them, but I do know if the women’s movement seizes this moment, which has obviously cracked open something much larger than any particular organization, it can create an amazing resurgence that will last another generation.
I wrote this in the Daily Beast today cheering you on: Women's Tahir Square Moment...(Your comments, shares, and links will be appreciated!)
At last, women saw enough red to get over the pink, the fear, the preference to play victim rather than embrace our own power. And that’s exactly how to stand down ideologues terrified of women getting a fair shake and the small but powerful fringe obsessed with other people's sex lives. (read the rest here).
Here’s a round up of some of media that caught my attention during the past week. I’d love to capture other stories you particularly resonated with—so please post them in the comments section below.
First there’s the reportage:
RHReality Check always has some of the best, fastest, and boldest reporting:It's no secret that anti-choice legislators at the state and national level have made Planned Parenthood the central focus of their anti-woman agenda, spending well over half of entire legislative sessions in some states focused on cutting funding and limiting access to reproductive health services. At the national level, the ongoing witch hunt aimed at PPFA has taken many forms, one of which includes a "Congressional inquiry" launched by House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.).
Here’s the transcript of a remarkable interview--Brinker’s failed damage-control interview two days later with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, by which time Komen’s story about why they were defunding PP had changed.
Student Activism explains why Komen’s ultimate apology wasn’t a real policy reversal but rather a lame attempt to placate everyone:
The new statement does not pledge Komen to reverse its funding decision, and it does not promise Planned Parenthood any new funding. Let’s look at the relevant passage:
“We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.”
No comment. Absurdity speaks for itself, as does the title of this piece:“Despite About-Face, Komen Funding Conflict Far From Over”“We are really afraid, because these people who are opposed to Planned Parenthood were threatening to disrupt our races or sponsors to our races,” said John Hammarley, a Komen senior communications adviser until late last summer. He said that part of his role was to help the foundation’s affiliates across the country to manage these complaints. He advised affiliates to be prepared for the worst, but most threats had yielded only a handful of placard-carrying protesters…
When the decision was finalized in December, the thinking was that not announcing it publicly would help avoid controversy, said John D. Raffaelli, a Komen board member.“We didn’t tell anyone except Planned Parenthood,” Mr. Raffaelli said. “We wanted to keep it quiet. We didn’t intend for this to be perceived as a victory for anybody. The whole approach was to not issue press releases to do anything to hurt Planned Parenthood.”
(I could not help myself—I left this comment on the article:
What a bunch of bs comments from Komen executives in this article! Here's what I learned from 30 years leading various Planned Parenthood entities and dealing with controversy every day:
When there is controversy, the best thing to do is what you know is right. And what you know is right is to fund organizations that actually provide breast health services to women. There shouldn't even be a question if you really are serious about doing what's best for your mission. For sure, those anti-choicers picketing your events aren't going to do a darn thing to provide the health services that women need.In sum: When you can't please everyone, do what is right. I suggest that you emblazon this upon your hearts as you go forward to try to repair the damage you've done to your brand.)
A selection of the best commentaries:
From John Aravosis at AmericaBlog, always one of the most incisive:Komen said a lot of things last week. Most of them contradictory. First they killed Planned Parenthood's funding because of the GOP congressional investigation, then they blamed it on their new-found opposition to "pass-through" grants, then in their apology they suggested that the real problem was the investigation, but maybe they'd still kill the grants in the future because of the pass-through. It was masterful obfuscation considering how amateurish was their handling of the disaster for most of the week.
Sarah Seltzer’s take on why we still have these problems is spot on IMO:I have to wonder how much the pro-choice movement’s own PR strategy of focusing on Planned Parenthood support of screenings and pap smears and so on at the expense of focusing on abortions has allowed the group’s ideological opponents to target those very things. I wonder if at some point during the long, long year for women’s healthcare that was 2011 we should have shouted “providing safe abortions is a moral good!” or “abortions are a necessary part of comprehensive health care!” instead of “but, but Planned Parenthood doesn’t just do abortions — they also do cancer screenings!” And then they came for our cancer screenings. Just as abortion has become a pariah, a separate class of healthcare instead of a part of it, wonderful organizations that perform abortions as part of a full range of health services are finding themselves cut off from the mainstream.
Here’s the thing. Women’s health will always be political, because we still live in a patriarchy, one in which every gain is met with backlash. As Ehrenreich notes, wryly, about breast cancer — even its current lack of politicization is political, its wide mainstream support a safe alternative to radical critique of our society and its effect on women’s health:
Katha Pollitt at The Nation opines:Komen miscalculated by thinking its base cares only about breast cancer: in fact, those women in pink t-shirts and sneakers, raising their thousands upon thousands of dollars a year for breast cancer research, understand quite well that women’s health means more than tumor-free breasts. If Komen understood that but thought—and maybe still thinks—it can deceive those activists, or gradually shed them and acquire a whole other, equally dedicated, base of anti-choicers, it will dwindle and die. Anti-choicers are not interested in breast cancer activism; they’re interested in stopping abortion. They proved that by their eagerness to deprive of breast care women for whom PP was the only available option.
From Rebecca Traister and Joan Walsh at Salon:More than that, though: The starkly observable attack against something as crucial and basic as breast exams for poor women, as well as the fact that so many divergent voices were pulled into it, meant that the conversation was not about partisan politics; it was about women. For the first time in what feels like forever, passion and fury were being loudly, proudly given in a full-throated voice, on behalf of women – women as moral actors; women as citizens with rights, health, bodies, freedoms; women as people with families and economic concerns.
Now what for Komen? Art Caplan, the nation’s pre-eminent bioethicist says nothing will fix Komen’s internal corruption short of the resignation of their executive staff and board. Do you agree?
From Shakesville: "Just like a pro-abortion group to turn a cancer orgs decision into a political bomb throw. Cry me a freaking river." -- Jade Morey, on Twitter. Who is Jade Morey? I do not know. However I do know who retweeted, and thus supported and endorsed that sentiment: Karen Handel (that's a link to the screenshot, as Handel tried to scrub it later by deleting it).
Like my mother used to say, “I’ll teach you a lesson you’ll never forget.”
Actions you can take that will make an indelible impression:
http://momocrats.com/2012/01/31/2012-momocrats-super-bowl-tailgate-for-choice-youre-invited-momocrats/ (Sorry, I missed the Superbowl, but this post still has great ideas you can use.)
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/72416.html List of Komen funders.
The most important action is to speak out like these women did:
At last, the energy of the feminist movement has risen like a Phoenix. I have gotten many enthusiastic emails today. This is not a time to forgive Komen Foundation, this is a time to find an alternative. –filmmaker Lilly Rivlin
“@gofeminist: "I became a feminist because I realised I wasn't alone" Joana Burigo #gofem” what happened this week w/Komen v PP
Extras, in case you haven’t had enough yet:
The most unbelievable flip-flopping, like a fish just pulled from the lake trying to figure out “Where the heck am I and why am I here?” Komen spokespersons have adopted the anti-choice technique of making up the story as they go. Unbelievable, unless you’ve dealt with right-wing anti-choice folks in person.