The truth is that anti-Planned-Parenthood sentiments aren’t about abortion; they’re about hostility to women, and particularly to female sexuality. Abortion makes up 3% of its services. Cancer screening and prevention are 17%.
Since it’s more politically tenable to go after the services utilized by lower-income women who have less of a voice in the mainstream, groups like Planned Parenthood are an easy target.
Women will be needlessly harmed by this: Socioenonomic factors influence breast cancer mortality rates, and the low-income women who the group serves are the ones most in need.
According to Komen itself, while white women are more likely to get breast cancer, African-American and Latina women — who are disproportionately poor — are more likely to die from it, in large part because of lack of screening and late diagnosis.
Colorlines has more on the racial and socioeconomic issues at play. Early detection is key in preventing breast cancer deaths, and women without health insurance are at a disadvantage, since they’re less likely to get regular screening. Poor women, women of color (who are disproportionately poor) and rural women in particular rely on clinics like Planned Parenthood for these essential services. And Planned Parenthood used Komen grants to reach out to under-served communities. In Los Angeles, for example, Komen grants allowed Planned Parenthood to run breast health education programs in nail salons, hair salons, and other places where Vietnamese women regularly gather. Community-based outreach programs like that are crucial; as Colorlines reports, “When Asian women migrate to the U.S., their risk of developing breast cancer increases up to six-fold. Asian immigrant women living in the U.S. for as little as a decade had an 80 percent higher risk of breast cancer than new immigrants.”
As Amanda points out, this is pro-life politics at its worst — an effort to divide “bad-girl healthcare” from “good-girl healthcare,” with anti-choice organizations just frankly not caring if women die, so long as their goal of punishing female sexuality is achieved. The fact is that the Komen grants at least in part served women who would be coming to Planned Parenthood in the first place; that in itself, I guess, makes the woman seeking services “bad” enough to let her die of cancer.
Pro-lifers have long claimed that their concern is abortion. It’s interesting to see what happens, though, when they get more emboldened. They go after birth control. They go after health care for women. They go after breast cancer screening. Maybe it’s about time folks caught on that anti-choicers aren’t concerned with abortion so much as they’re hostile to female sexuality generally?