Playing Politics With Cancer Screening

Planned Parenthood made its name by helping people plan parenthood, promoting access to contraception and providing general reproductive health care. Fewer than one in ten clients comes for abortions, and less than 30% of 860 Planned Parenthood clinics in the U.S. actually provide abortions. In fact Planned Parenthood argues that it prevents nearly 300,000 abortions a year by helping prevent unintended pregnancies. But the fireworks of the culture wars have meant that the organization has become the face of abortion in America, and that brings a literal as well as political cost.

For fifteen years, Planned Parenthood of Southwest Missouri clinics in Joplin and Springfield have offered free breast and cervical cancer screenings as part of the state’s “Show Me Healthy Women” program. Now Governor Matt Blunt has announced that he will cut off all program funding to Planned Parenthood and redirect it to other health clinics. “Patients should not have to go to an abortion clinic to access life-saving tests,” Blunt declared. Refusing to fund cancer screening at the clinics, he said, “ensures women may access important preventative care without contributing to abortion providers’ goal of facilitating the destruction of innocent life.”

Except the clinics he cut funding to don’t even provide abortions. And even if they did, patients don’t “have” to go to abortion clinics to access these tests — they just have the option to go to Planned Parenthood, which may be closer to where they live, easier for them to access, and more affordable than a private doctor.

But because Planned Parenthood offers abortions at fewer than one-third of its facilities, and because the organization refuses to back down in supporting women’s rights, Governor Blunt is stripping women of greater access to cancer detection. Yet again, “pro-lifers” prove that their commitment to life ends at birth, and does not apply to women.


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32 comments for “Playing Politics With Cancer Screening

  1. March 26, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    I’m a MO resident and I despise Matt Blunt. He’s a racist, classist, misogynist. I can’t wait to vote him out of office.

  2. March 26, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Amazing, isn’t it? The very people that look you straight in the eye and say that they are for “less government”, elect the very people that spend more taxes, raise taxes, spy on US citizens for the crime of disagreeing with them, and trying at every turn to tell US citizens what to do with their bodies and which religion is the “right” religion?

    Perhaps, what they mean to say is that they mean to say is that they are for “less equal government”? I have been trying to understand how the term “Liberal” has come to be a worse thing to say than child-molester, nazi, murderer or sinner.

    I look at the conservative party leaders (mostly fat, white and wealthy males) and I think about these “great days of yore” that they pine for returning us all to. I think that ultimatlely the state of affairs that will make them happy is a return to small town america where women and minorities knew better than to open their mouths when a white man is in the room.

  3. mom_of_2
    March 26, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Hi, I’m kind of new at this but wouldn’t it be better for us if we didn’t have to worry about every twitch of the political weathervane? It just seems like what government can hand out, govt. can take away. Shouldn’t we be making sure we have access to what we need through our own efforts and not have to rely on govt.?

  4. Rory
    March 26, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Ooo! This makes me so furious.

  5. Rory
    March 26, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Dear Mom_of_2:

    I suppose you would like to contribute the funds necessary to pay for poor women in a different state or possibly country depending on where you’re from to get cancer screenings?

    Planned Parenthood does raise money, but it’s not enough to cover all of the services it provides.

    We’re the ones who give the govt money anyway. It’s not like it’s out there working three jobs to make sure we have health services.

  6. March 26, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Shouldn’t we be making sure we have access to what we need through our own efforts and not have to rely on govt.?

    Sure. Do you build your own roads?

  7. mom_of_2
    March 26, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    That’s so hostile. I wish you’d be more open to someone less experienced than you. In fact I DO contribute money for people who need help. I don’t build ANY roads but I do find that the best roads are the privately run toll-ways.
    Trying to do things through govt. just seems like a last resort when you have already tried other ways. The fact that gov’t already gets our money for so many things doesn’t seem like a good reason to keep trying to get important things done this way. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. We will keep fighting the same fights over and over as the political pendulum goes back and forth.
    Why waste energy whining about what politicians are willing to give us from day to day? Why not strive to operate independently and focus on REDUCING gov’t intervention into private matters?

  8. Matt
    March 26, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Image politics bullshit, that just begs the public to be a bunch shallow hacks in everything especially their electoral politics (like Republican talking points if you’ve ever read them). If only more people read Faye Ginsberg everyone could understand that the real enemy is the New (old and greedy) Right and that they’ve co-opted pro-life women’s agendas (the ones that are proponents of the self-sacrificing womanhood not so much for their own subjugation) expressed purpose of oppressing them as though patriarchy was all of a sudden spelled G-O-P and misogyny became founding principle of the Republic. The US would be a much better place if people realized that abortion and reproduction in general doesn’t exist in a vacuum where common sense actually works and morality weighs more than life itself.

  9. prairielily
    March 26, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Does he have a plan to provide convenient, low-cost cancer screenings at non-PP locations for the same price? Doing something like this without a concrete plan to provide the same services would be political suicide where I live.

    Sure. Do you build your own roads?

    There was a small town in southern Saskatchewan that started rebuilding the crumbling highway near their town because it was in such terrible shape that it was dangerous. Potholes bigger than cars, etc.

    WHY DO YOU HATE SMALL PRAIRIE TOWNS, JILL?!!!!

  10. j
    March 26, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    I hate Matt Blunt.

  11. mom_of_2
    March 26, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    I’m afraid I don’t understand most of this. Can anyone break this down some for a newcomer?

    Image politics bullshit, that just begs the public to be a bunch shallow hacks in everything especially their electoral politics (like Republican talking points if you’ve ever read them). If only more people read Faye Ginsberg everyone could understand that the real enemy is the New (old and greedy) Right and that they’ve co-opted pro-life women’s agendas (the ones that are proponents of the self-sacrificing womanhood not so much for their own subjugation) expressed purpose of oppressing them as though patriarchy was all of a sudden spelled G-O-P and misogyny became founding principle of the Republic. The US would be a much better place if people realized that abortion and reproduction in general doesn’t exist in a vacuum where common sense actually works and morality weighs more than life itself.

  12. Mnemosyne
    March 26, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Hi, I’m kind of new at this but wouldn’t it be better for us if we didn’t have to worry about every twitch of the political weathervane?

    Oh, dear. You’ve just discovered libertarianism, have you? And now you’re posting on the government-sponsored internet on a computer that was partially developed using government research about how the government is useless, so therefore we shouldn’t use government money to let poor women get tests that were largely developed using government money.

    You people sure are selective about where you draw the line on government spending. Government money that benefits corporations = a-okay! But the minute that a private citizen benefits from government spending, all of a sudden the spigot has to be turned off because it’s a “waste.”

  13. Cate
    March 26, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    mom_of_2, I like the spirit of what you’re saying in your first comment. I would love to put more energy into building networks of people and resources independent of the governmental framework. Wherever women are doing that successfuly, my heroes are found. I’m all for having as many nets as possible. When one breaks down, is so vital to have another. Like you, I don’t necessarily have many good ideas about how to do it at this point; I’m new at this too. But having it in mind as a goal as we learn more and more about the political and societal machinations of misogyny, maybe we actually do some good for ourselves and our communities outside of and free from those structures. I’d like to learn more about how that’s possible.

    It seems to me that we could put effort toward not only making sure we have what we need from our governemnt but “doing it for ourselves” as well.

    See, this is a great reason why young girls need mentors!

  14. mom_of_2
    March 26, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    Mnemosyne, I’m surprised at the level of hostility. It just seems unrealistic to me to expect that the politicians will always (or ever) be on our side. Something we come to think of as a right will be gone as soon as a substantial block of voters gets their attention.
    It’s so easy to slap labels on someone and take their comments to a ridiculous extreme. And a comment like “you people” ; which “you people” is that please?
    Are you challenging my feminism or my socialism?

  15. mythago
    March 26, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Mnemosyne, I’m surprised at the level of hostility.

    Oh, c’mon. If you’re going to be a concern troll, at least be an original one. The “gosh, I just happened to stumble onto this feminist blog and can I pretend like I’m asking real questions?” act is so old it’s got grandbabies.

  16. March 26, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    “Patients should not have to go to an abortion clinic to access life-saving tests,”

    Um, right. OK. Fine. But diverting PP funding elsewhere would only be pertinent to this claim iff the PP clinics where abortions were performed were also the only places patients could go to access said life-saving tests. Otherwise, patients already, by definition, do not have to (i.e., necessarily must) go to an abortion clinic to access life-saving tests. They can go elsewhere. This suggests quite clearly that there are other motivations… Hmm, what could they be…?

    Well-constructed straw man, though — not only does it manage to not be valid in its own rights, but he also tied it to PP == abortion omgwtf!!!11

  17. Mnemosyne
    March 26, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Are you challenging my feminism or my socialism?

    Actually, I’m challenging your libertarianism. That’s what you are when you insist that the government should not pay for basic human needs like health care.

    If you’re a socialist, you’re the strangest one I’ve ever run across since you don’t seem to understand the basic tenets of socialism. You seem to think that private enterprise and private citizens should pay for things like cancer screenings for low-income people. What part of that is “socialist”? Anarchist, perhaps, but socialist and anarchist are two totally different and opposite social views.

  18. mom_of_2
    March 26, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    I’m sorry if your past experience with trolls causes you to be hostile toward anyone with a slightly different point of view, I really am. I prefer civil discussion and I want more choices and more chances for a better life for myself, my daughter and for all women.
    If Planned Parenthood lives and dies on the whims of a politician, they are weak and need to look at how they can better pursue their agenda. Angry votes count exactly the same as all the other votes. It doesn’t matter how much enjoyment you plan to get from voting against someone if they are still standing on that Wed. morning in Nov.
    The examples of roads and the internet have been mentioned. Any of us could lose access to these resources in a moment. Your driver’s license can be revoked by the same govt. that issued it and the internet could change beyond recognition or disappear all together (401, not found) in the blink of an eye. If someone else holds control over something you need to exist, you are weak. You can not increase power by whining about your setbacks and basking in a chorus of “you go, girl.”
    If these views make me a troll, what term do you reserve for people who are really against you?

  19. Tricia(freya)
    March 26, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    mom_of_2: If you are sincere, I suggest you start here and do a lot of reading before you come back.

  20. mom_of_2
    March 26, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    That’s actually a pretty quick read. Also, I was glad to see this part:

    OK, then. Welcome to the blog.

    Thanks!

  21. mom_of_2
    March 26, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Also, you might want to add a link about socialism, libertarianism and other economic theories and philosophies. There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding about such things and of course economic theory is closely tied to political theory and politics is inseperable from social justice. If it is a requirement that one be a practicing socialist in order to participate here, that should be announced more prominently.

    For the record, I am not a Libertarian but I am an adult who knows how to read a W-2.

    I am on CDT and have work in the a.m.
    Cheers

  22. March 26, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    mom_of_2, while I’ll assume your intentions are pure and all that, I think you’re missing the source of outrage for most of us. Sure, it would be great if we could create networks for poor women that didn’t rely on the whims of government. However, what irks me about the new Jill brought forth in her post is that a politician is revoking funding for life-saving tests for poor women and politicizing something that shouldn’t be political in the first place. So while we’re talking about creating this non-governmental scheme, women are going to die waiting. And that’s not okay with me.

  23. zuzu
    March 26, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    mom_of_2, you’re derailing the thread.

    For your questions about feminism, a lovely woman in Australia has created a blog just for questions such as yours. Go there and seek your answers; we are not here to educate you on the basics.

    For your economics 101 questions, Google and Wikipedia are your friends.

    Now go, and don’t come back until you’ve at least read the FAQ at Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog.

  24. March 27, 2007 at 12:47 am

    If you’re going to say this:

    If it is a requirement that one be a practicing socialist in order to participate here, that should be announced more prominently.

    Then maybe you shouldn’t announce that you are a socialist, the way you did here:

    And a comment like “you people” ; which “you people” is that please?

    Are you challenging my feminism or my socialism?

    Really, this is pretty basic stuff — be consistent in what you claim you are rather than changing the political affiliations that you claim in different comments to the exact same post. Trolling 101, if you will.

  25. mom_of_2
    March 27, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Again with the troll label? I apologize if my phrasing seemed to suggest that I call myself a socialist, I certainly do not. It seemed that the objection to my observation had more to do with discussing socialism than feminism and I thought this was feministe, not socialiste.
    I will be a good little lurker from now on, please excuse me.

  26. March 27, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    The MO governor didn’t revoke the funding for the cancer screening – he actually increased it – but he did end the contract that allowed Planned Parenthood to conduct the screenings, and gave it to a couple of other health clinics. So it’s not like he’s saying, “Here, have some cancer,” but it’s more like he’s saying “I’m not going to help Planned Parenthood do anything, even if it’s not abortion-related.”

  27. catfanatic
    March 27, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    #27 sarah-good point. The thing that comes to my mind is what clinics WILL get the money-the “barefoot and pregnant for jesus” clinic? or maybe the “feminists are evil” clinic?

  28. catfanatic
    March 27, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    by stopping funding for lifesaving procedures the conservatives can continue to paint planned parenthood as “pro-death”

  29. March 27, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    I hate living in Missouri and I hate Matt Blunt.

  30. ERV
    March 27, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Yeah, its going to other clinics. Quote his PR rep: “Robinson said the change in providers and funding is being done to avoid any philosophical or moral objections women may have to visiting an office with an organizational name tied to abortion providers.

    So these are public clinics that wont provide women with information on abortion or refer them to abortion providers?

    Matt Blunt is a hypocritical ass. Does this shit, supports pharmacists’ ‘right’ to refuse to dispense pharmaceuticals for religious reasons, etc etc etc….. But then he cuts funding to parents who adopt handicapped children, cuts Medicaid to low-income parents, cuts funding to habilitation centers…

  31. Racu
    March 30, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    I don’t think mom-of-2 was trolling so much as she’s unaware. Just like the guy responding to a story about debt collectors breaking the law. He assumed everyone who had collectors calling them were deadbeats and told them to just pay their damned bills! The responses informed him in no uncertain terms that most of these people were victims of circumstance, primarily medical problems, and they would very much like to “just pay their damned bills!” He apologized.

    It seems mom-for-2 does not understand what it’s like to be poor, to have no insurance, nor that medicare/aid does not pay for everything. Planned Parenthood is not a corporation, it relies on government funding to do its job, and even leaving abortions completely out of the picture (after all, prior to 1973, they didn’t even DO abortions), they are providing a valuable service.

    Once again, some right-winger is forcing his beliefs and agenda on the general public at the expense of those who can least afford the consequences.

    Just as an aside, pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions? They should have their licenses pulled and be banned from the profession. It’s not their place to decide what a patient should or should not take and if they don’t like it, then they need to find another line of work.

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