This post is a part of the “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.
My mom is a breast cancer survivor.
When she was diagnosed in early December of 2009, I was just 20 days short of the biggest transition of my young life. I was moving 1,100 miles away from everyone I knew. Of course, the idea of leaving my family at a time when my mom would need more support than ever was terrifying. That Christmas, 3 days before my departure, I gave her a Susan G. Komen shirt. I had a matching one. I wanted her to wear it and know that I was thinking about her no matter where I was.
It was a comfort–as were the many other Komen gifts that she received from family. She felt connected to other women who had also fought the battle. And she loved their “Fight like a Girl” themed items which took a positive spin on an otherwise sexist expression. For all these reasons, I’ve had a nice warm, fuzzy association with Komen.
So it really enraged me when I heard the news that Komen has ceased their funding of Planned Parenthood. According to the Huffington Post, “Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun said the cutoff results from the charity’s newly adopted criteria barring grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities.”
Certainly, that explanation is a bit unclear and it’s hard to believe that any decision an organization makes to distance itself from Planned Parenthood isn’t politically motivated right now. As Caperton at Feministe points out, ”It’s also worth noting, of course, that Komen’s new aggressively anti-choice vice president, Karen Handel, ran for governor of Georgia in 2010 on a platform of defunding Planned Parenthood.”
No matter what the reason for the defunding, the fact of the matter is that this is a huge problem which will have ramifications mostly for low income women. As Tracy Clark-Flory reported at Salon:
Regardless of whether the Komen Foundation pulled grants “because they caved to anti-choice pressure or because of the political leanings of their VP,” says activist Jessica Valenti, founder of Feministing.com, “the result is the same — women’s health and lives are going to suffer as a result.” That’s especially true for low-income women who are most dependent on Planned Parenthood’s services.
If all of this is news to you, you’re not alone. I can admit, that I have been woefully under informed about what Komen’s actual programs were. I knew that when I bought those shirts the proceeds went to “breast cancer research” but I didn’t really know what they had been funding, or at least, I’d never thought about it specifically. However, this announcement has brought to light just how many mammograms Komen has funded through Planned Parenthood’s clinics–clinics which provide services to people who oftentimes would have no other access point. In fact, according to Planned Parenthood,
Over the past five years, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation funds have enabled Planned Parenthood health centers to provide nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and referrals for more than 6,400 mammograms. These cancer detection and prevention programs saved the lives of women who often had nowhere else to turn for care.
Reading that information and knowing that Planned Parenthood will now be taking a big hit quite literally makes me want to cry. I’ve written before about how my own run in with a breast issue was impacted by low cost, reliable care at Planned Parenthood. As I said, when I was in my late teens through mid 20s, I regularly accessed Planned Parenthoods in Indiana (another story of disappointment!) At 22 I discovered a lump in my breast. I was petrified of the possibilities and I didn’t seek medical treatment for quite some time. Finally, at my annual exam with the nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood, I felt comfortable enough to ask her about it. She checked me out and calmed me saying that it seemed to be a hormonal cyst, with the kindest words and soothing care. She referred me to the Indiana Breast Center where they confirmed with an ultrasound that it was nothing serious. It was because of accessing affordable, compassionate care that I finally confronted my biggest fears and was examined.
Thinking about other people who will face a similar situation and not be able to get the help I received breaks my heart and enrages me. And of course, when we are talking about this issue, we must be honest. It will be poor, women of color who will be most affected by this decision.
The real problem here is that Komen is pandering to right wing anti-abortion extremists who refuse to believe the undeniable fact that Planned Parenthood does much, much more than abortions. The result, without intervening funds, is that thousands of individuals will be denied breast exam services.
It is because of this that I officially turn my back on the Susan G. Komen Foundation. They are not an organization which represents my values and I will no longer support them. I will take my money and my admiration elsewhere. If you’d like to join me, please give to Planned Parenthood’s emergency fund to make up this loss today.
This post is a part of the “What Democracy Looks Like” weekly column, which covers left-wing movements and activism. Formerly known as “The Active Left.”
On Saturday, January 28, the newly formed Occupy Chicago Gender Equity Committee held its first direct action in Oak Brook, Illinois.
The committee describes itself as follows, taken from the groups Facebook page:
The Occupy Chicago Gender Equity Committee demands full and open access to social services for all people. We recognize that issues of gender equality are inseparable from the long-running history of oppression of the working class and racial minorities. The fight for a truly democratic society cannot be achieved without the struggle for gender equity. We stand with all our brothers and sisters engaged in the fight for equality and ask all of you to join us in this: the fight for dignity, equality, and democracy.
After meeting up in downtown Chicago early Saturday morning, around 20 or so demonstrators made up of occupiers and members of other organizations, headed out to Oak Brook and braved the brutal cold to protest the annual Speak Out Illinois conference. SOIL is a right-wing, anti-choice event made up of over 30 pro-life organizations, politicians and activists.
The protesters stood in front of the hotel were the conference was hosted. Some of the signs present read “Trust Women,” “Bigots Go Home,” “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries,” and “Don’t Soil Yourself,” to name a few. After an hour or so of chanting, the occupiers decided to hold a rally and speak-out. Speakers talked about the need for women to be able to have safe and legal abortions and how laws that ban abortion not only fail to decrease the amount of them, they also put the lives of women in danger. Ryne P. of Join the Impact Chicago–an LGBTQ group–stressed the importance of solidarity. Other groups represented were DuPage County NOW, Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education and the International Socialist Organization.
As soon as the speak-out concluded, the activists decided to march around the outside of the hotel, partly to be seen by the anti-choicers inside and partly to stay warm. While marching, the demonstrators chanted “Same Struggle, Same Fight. All Unite for Women’s Rights,” Two, Four, Six, Eight. Abortion Rights in Every State,” and a few others.
Some of highlights of the rally and the march were captured in a video made by Corrie W. of the Gender Equity Committee.
One speaker, and member of the ISO, brought to light the fact that 2012 will continue to be struggle because 2011 brought a myriad of anti-choice attacks from several politicians. Some examples are attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, an Ohio stunt to test the heart-beat of a fetus–which would have put in order some serious restrictions to abortions, a failed Mississippi law that attempted to deem a fertilized egg a legal person and a Georgia Republican’s plot to criminalize miscarriages. Last year also brought laughable remarks from anti-choice right-wingers such as when Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl said the “Not intended to be factual” statement that over 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s business came from providing abortions and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s insane statement that women were frequently getting abortions after shopping solely because of a Planned Parenthood near by a shopping mall.
The right-wing attacks prompted a re-birth to the women’s rights movement which saw mass city-wide demonstrations via the Walk For Choice campaigns around the country. Of course 2011 also brought the popular Slut Walk, which fought back against rape culture world wide.
Along with the draconian attempts to restrict abortion and the weird laws that would redefine rape, the right-wing attacks also put in danger basic female and male health services by demanding the aforementioned cuts to Planned Parenthood and other health providers.
Hopefully this year brings not only strong attempts to defend a woman’s right to choose, but also develops into an offensive feminist movement in the struggle for free abortion on demand and for the end of rape culture.
Police Massacre at Occupy Oakland As Allison Kilkenny reported, this morning at 4:40 the Oakland Police lined up around the Occupy Oakland protest in riot gear. They then assaulted the sleeping protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, flash grenades and noise cannons. Video of the scene can be found at the post. This is disgusting example of what can happen to popular uprisings like these, but the fact that evidence of the wrongs committed can get out to everyone will be crucial in swaying public opinion and building support for the Occupy movement in general.
The GOP’s War on Reproductive Rights
‘Personhood’ Measures Threaten In Vitro Fertilization Anti abortion advocates have been able to get measures on the ballot that would criminalize a woman’s constitutionally mandated right to an abortion – by defining personhood at the fertilization of an embryo. This would not only outlaw abortion, but also the majority of women’s forms of contraception (including the pill). Also, as Think Progress notes, concerns have arisen that even the process of In Vitro fertilization would be subject to scrutiny due to the strict language of the measure. How is this a serious position? Passing these measures (that are still up for election in several states) would deal a huge blow to a woman’s ability to control her own body in this country.
Judge Blocks N. Carolina Anti-Abortion Law A federal judge has stopped the implementation of a North Carolina law that forced doctors to show women wanting an abortion an ultrasound within four hours of the procedure along with asking if the woman would like to hear the fetus’s heartbeat. These tactics are clear examples of legislating obstacles to scare women away from ever getting an abortion. I thank U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles for deciding this way, and even though this injunction is temporary while she hears arguments, I am optimistic that this law will be found unconstitutional.
Mitt Romney Doesn’t Hate Unions Enough Mitt Romney was in Ohio and gave some support to Ohio’s SB-5, the Ohio bill that stripped public unions of the right to collectively bargain and has been subsequently brought up on referendum because of voter signatures. Romney, being interested in staying electable in the general election, might not want to be seen as anti-worker. This was unacceptable to conservatives in Ohio. This is another example of the GOP being willing to eat their own rather than accept multiple views.
Wow, Herman Cain, Just Wow So, I saw this campaign ad for Herman Cain on Amanda Marcotte’s blog. The person in the ad is Cain’s Chief of Staff. It’s the perfect combination of anger, craziness, hilariously literal music. Watch the video and enjoy!
Thanks for reading and staying informed! I apologize for the infrequency of the posts for these News Drops, but until we get someone in to assist I will post as often as I can. I thank you for your patience. Keep reading The Progressive Playbook and come back for more Daily News Drops.
Sources: In These Times, Think Progress, Raw Story, Talking Points Memo, Pandagon
Two Party System Fails in Debt Ceiling Talks In a political reality where the contentious disagreements are between two plans that are far more similar than different, it’s time to look at the system as a whole to see if there are deeper problems at hand. As John Boehner tries to pass a plan that has no chance becoming law, Truthout identifies the real force that has pushed both parties into acting against the public interest – corporations.
Investment in Infrastructure Would Create Jobs As we enter what Nancy Pelosi called the ‘Age of Austerity,’ increased funding to things like infrastructure seem like a thing of the past. Looking at the actual numbers, however, it makes so much sense to do it at this moment. Creating jobs and fixing problems at a fraction of the cost compared to what waiting them to get worse would cost.
Dispelling the ‘Anti-Choicers’ A great post by Amanda Marcotte today – a concise list on Alternet pointing out ten things she would like to say to anti-choice activists. Most of them dispelling rumors and outright lies. Points like this could be key to turning back the all-out attack that women’s reproductive rights are under at the state level.
15 Years in Prison for Taping the Police As more and more candid recordings are emerging of police overreach and outright brutality, a crackdown is coming down on the practice from a strange angle. Laws already on the books against wiretapping are being used to punish and intimidate individuals into not recording these incidences. Beyond the shock that the police are trying to eliminate this growing tactic that ensures accountability, there’s just something so hypocritical about the fact that the federal government can now wiretap any U.S. citizen without a warrant but a citizen can’t record a police officer doing their job without risking prosecution.
Tea Party Representative Sued for Missed Child Support Rep. Joe Walsh is being sued by his ex-wife for over $117,000 in missed child support payments. Walsh, who has made hay for slamming the President for the national debt, has claimed that he doesn’t owe that much (that ‘he’s had no more trouble with child supports payments than any other average guy’). Regardless of the amount, it’s still a shocking refusal to fulfill his obligations.
Conservative Media Ignores Heat Wave Another example of the conservative denial of Climate Change: Scream about how cold it is in winter and stay quiet during the summer. As more and more statistics come out continuing to verify the warming climate, it seems to be harder and harder to ignore the facts without obviously lying. Rush Limbaugh’s claim that heat index numbers were now political and factual seem to be more the norm than the exception.
Al Sharpton Refuses to Criticize Obama Not much for me to add to this story. Al Sharpton, MSNBC’s replacement host for Cenk Uygur (Who was forced to leave because of his criticism of the Obama administration), stated in an interview that he would ‘never criticize the president.’ This is beyond partisanship, this is favoritism. To claim that anyone is infallible and beyond reproach is sad. Just sad.
Victory for Solidarity: the End of the NFL Lockout As sports outlets call the end of the NFL Lockout a victory for fans, it’s important to look back and see that the NFL Players Association achieved a large portion of what they wanted. Standing up in solidarity against billionaire owners who were hellbent on taking a greater share of the revenue, the Players were able to hold their own, improve safety conditions and get even more to help retired players. In the current narrative of the attack on organized labor, it’s important to look to this example as both a victory and inspiration.
Thanks for reading and staying informed! Please share this article and others on the site to continue to get the message out there!
Sources: Truth Out, Huffington Post, Fire Dog Lake, Alternet, Talking Points Memo, Think Progress, Salon, Edge of Sports