As the furor over Komen’s de-funding of Planned Parenthood continues, more and more myths about PP, its mission, and the impact of this cruel and foolish decision are getting thrown around. Frequently, those myths get lost and go uncorrected in the presence of bigger and more ideological arguments.
That’s really not fair.
Alas, this is merely the tip of the bullshit iceberg. As the Komen debacle is nowhere near coming to an end, we can expect new and exciting myths and lies to arise, like the head of a Hydra, as others are debunked. To that end, watch this space, and by all means contribute your own debunkings in comments.
1. Planned Parenthood mostly does abortions. In fact, only about three percent of services provided by PP are abortions. The vast majority of their efforts and funds go to well-woman care, care for women who are or want to be pregnant, STD tests, Pap tests, basic gynecology services, education, and, yeah, breast exams, among a bunch of other things. PP provides health care for millions of men and women who might not otherwise be able to afford it. The Komen funds paid for 170,000 breast cancer screenings and 6,400 mammogram referrals a year–that’s 170,000 women who might have breast cancer and not know about it until it’s too late.
2. There’s a link between abortion and breast cancer. This one’s been thrown out a lot recently–“Why would Komen give money to Planned Parenthood when there’s a proven connection between abortion and breast cancer?” Well, first of all, see #1. Second, that connection doesn’t exist. A National Cancer Institute workshop of more than 100 experts studying findings on cancer and pregnancy “concluded that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.” (What is linked to breast cancer? Full-term pregnancy.) Says the American Cancer Society, “… [T]he public is not well-served by false alarms. At this time, the scientific evidence does not support the notion that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer.”
3. Planned Parenthood doesn’t provide mammograms. Planned Parenthood clinics don’t perform mammograms on site (and PP doesn’t claim otherwise). (My gynecologist doesn’t, either–mammograms are performed by radiologists, not gynecologists.) Instead, PP refers women to radiology offices for the procedure and then foots the bill themselves. If you got pissed off when you mom said she got you a massage for your birthday and then handed you a gift certificate and not an actual masseuse, this will bother you. Otherwise, you’re probably okay with it.
(Update: I’ve started seeing a lot of other breast cancer-related myths popping up–the radiation and/or compression in mammograms cause breast cancer, that sort of thing–so I thought I’d link to a few few thorough debunkings of those myths, too.)
Probably a myth:
Komen’s de-funding of Planned Parenthood isn’t politically motivated. Now, it would be irresponsible and potentially libelous to say that Komen’s newest excuse is utter and fetid bullshit. But I can point out that just days ago, the excuse was that PP is under investigation, and Komen’s new self-imposed policy is not to partner with organizations that are under investigation. Now it appears they totes forgot to mention that it’s also (or possibly instead; their stories are not entirely clear here) because their “new granting strategies and criteria”… do something, and something about impact, and never turning their backs on the women who need them the most, and nothing hinting at why PP no longer figures into all of that. Like I said, I can’t declare outright that Nancy Brinker is a filthy liar. I can, however, point out a couple of things that are
1. Komen’s new senior vice president, Karen Handel, is openly and explicitly anti-Planned Parenthood. When she ran for governor of Georgia in 2010, her platform was de-funding Planned Parenthood.
First, let me be clear, since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood. During my time as Chairman of Fultno County, there were federal and state pass-through grants that were awarded to Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screening, as well as a “Healthy Babies Initiative.” … Since grants like these are from the state I’ll eliminate them as your next Governor.
2. The brand-new “Komen doesn’t fund organizations that are under investigation” policy is… questionable. According to Komen board member John D. Raffaelli, the policy was put in place after the Congressional investigation started, basically to give Komen an excuse to stop funding them.
John D. Raffaelli, a Komen board member and Washington lobbyist, said Wednesday that the decision to cut off money to 17 of the 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates it had supported was made because of the fear that an investigation of Planned Parenthood by Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, would damage Komen’s credibility with donors.
… “People don’t understand that a Congressional investigation doesn’t necessarily mean a problem of substance,” Mr. Raffaelli said. “When people read about it in places like Texarkana, Tex., where I’m from, it sounds really bad.”
So the Komen board voted that all of its vendors and grantees must certify that they are not under investigation by federal, state, or local authorities. But for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, being the target of partisan investigation is part of doing business. So Komen’s new rule effectively ended their longtime partnership and seemed to the health services provider an unacceptable betrayal of their common mission to save women’s lives.
… When Komen’s board voted on the policy, several members asked who would be affected by the new policy. Elizabeth Thompson, Komen’s president, said, according to Mr. Raffaelli, “Planned Parenthood is the only one we know of. If we find others, those would be impacted, too.”
The Atlantic has more background on this one.
3. The congressional investigation that’s causing so much trouble was initiatives by an anti-choice organization. I’ll give you a moment to recover from your shock. Stearns’s investigation came at the urging of the group Americans United for Life via 30 pages of unsupported accusations guaranteed to keep investigators digging for a good, long time. This is despite the fact that under the Hyde Amendment, Planned Parenthood has to submit yearly audits anyway–which have never turned up any wrongdoing. Your tax dollars at work.
Did I miss anything?
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