The Contrarian: Politics, Planned Parenthood, And The “Pink Ribbons”

When people say that something doesn’t have to do with politics, I want to laugh in their face.

The Planned Parenthood Federation Of America (PPFA) and the “Pink Ribbons” might be a mere week deep in the PR firestorm that resulted from the latter non-profit ostensibly washing their hands of the other, but this is the digital age. The internet wastes no time. And neither do we.

In the first 24 hours following the now-undoubtedly controversial decision, the stage was set for a special edition Lifetime Sunday special (sorry, I just had to) where the underdog wins, the cheerleader loses credibility, and the audience is so enamored with the high school revenge-porn plot that they forget that the cheerleader was one of the few people who was actually nice to our underdog hero, who seems to have forgotten it, too.

Not surprisingly, in this first 24 hours, the purported amount of $700,000 in cut funding from long-standing benefactor Susan G. Komen for the Cure, money specifically used for breast cancer screenings, was matched by a series of private monetary “gifts” from various organizations, numerous knee-jerk donations from people sitting at the safety of their computers, and a very vocal pledge from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to offset the cut in funding in an amount up to $250,000.

When people say that health care should have nothing to do with politics, I want to laugh, but for a slightly different reason. Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement Thursday that politics “has no place” in health care, tweeting later that afternoon: “Join me in standing with Planned Parenthood to protect and promote women’s health.” This kind of public endorsement by a male politician who is an Independent who used to be a Republican who used to be a Democrat by way of the internets is a huge show of support for an important organization and its very important cause at a very important juncture.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation Of America on Bloomberg’s pledge: “People all across the country have stepped forward in the last 48 hours to offer help and support, and the mayor’s donation will help ensure that no woman is denied breast cancer services because of right-wing political pressure campaigns.”

Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of reproductive health care services in the country, was publicly snubbed by one of its larger contributors, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest, most well known and well funded organizations in the continuing “battle” against breast cancer. According to Planned Parenthood, the grants from Komen had paid for about 4.3 percent of the four million breast exams and nine percent of the 70,000-mammogram referrals provided at clinics in the past five years. If they had really needed the resurgence of support this turn of events has garnered for their image and for their budget, you could call this a success story of the best kind. Resilience in the face of adversity and prosecution.

But is that really what it is? Not that it really matters that this point, as the whole political aspect of this debacle cannot be shaken from its vernacular, but whether or not Komen’s decision to cut funding (which, btw, is partly intact as enough money will continue to be donated to the Federation, but to about three target clinics in a substantially, albeit substantial, smaller amount) was indeed motivated by right wing pressure against the pro-choice agenda, it does seem that there is a real justification for reducing the amount of support given; Planned Parenthood is under investigation by Congress and that is no small-fry shit.

The congressional investigation is in regards to the potential of illegally used taxpayer funds being utilized to provide abortions. If this is in anyway true, and if the public made it a point to give it the slightest credence, this would piss many people off. Komen’s decision as presented by their own is a matter of choosing to provide grants to organizations that are not under investigation by Congress. Seems simple enough, but it sounds like an excuse, especially when administered after everyone has jumped on the anti-anti-abortionist bandwagon.

Yes, Planned Parenthood has security and bulletproof glass for a reason. They have not gone without their share of opposition and sanctions by the public. But that does not mean that any entity that does not fully support them is a bully.

Representatives from Susan G. Komen for the Cure have been struggling with damage control, trying to salvage the relationships they do have and trying to make up for ones they have lost. Hundreds of individuals across the country have reported that they will no longer make their yearly donation to Komen, and will now place that money in the hands of Planned Parenthood. Many of these individuals have been donating to the organization for more than a decade. I can’t tell you how many Facebook statuses I’ve seen on my Newsfeed that read “FUCK KAREN HANDEL,” caps and all.

Call it whatever you want, but the issue about whether or not this whole thing was politically motivated is a moot point, for if it didn’t have to do with politics in the first place, it certainly is now.

Because it is always about politics. By any name and face.