Elizabeth Bastian, Opinion Editor

BY ELIZABETH BASTIAN

This past week was an epic fail as far as advancement in women’s healthcare goes.

Not only did Pfizer, a national pharmaceutical company, have to recall over a million packets of 28-day birth control packets due to a disordering of the pills that could cause pregnancy, but Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a leader everywhere in raising awareness and treatment programs for breast cancer, has decided to stop supporting Planned Parenthood’s healthcare systems.

Says a report on Planned Parenthood’s website:
“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. Now, after facing criticism from anti-choice, anti-women’s health groups, the Komen Foundation has decided to stop supporting women seeking care at Planned Parenthood health centers.”

Komen cites the fact that Planned Parenthood is under investigation by Congress due to a claim by a Republican Representative that organizations funds were illegally spent on abortions, using this an excuse for their fund withdrawal. In reality, the nation is seeing the pro-life/pro-choice battle play out on a much larger, and much deadlier battlefield.

Let me begin this piece by saying that there is no such thing as being “pro-abortion.” Unless you happen upon a sick, twisted individual, I highly doubt you can find someone who is all about killing unborn fetuses. Those who are pro-choice are simply advocating for that: a choice. An option. Where’s the harm in that?

This country cannot laud itself as the land of the free while it is still trying to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. It appalls me that nearly forty years after Roe v. Wade, women are not given true equality in the healthcare and medical fields. Isn’t this the twenty-first century? Yes, I know sexism is not completely eradicated, but I thought it would be better than this.

The sad thing is that people are so quick to judge what exactly organizations like Planned Parenthood do. It’s not a walk-in abortion clinic; it’s a safe haven for women and girls who are frightened and/or broke, for females who have nowhere else to go. They provide birth control, true; but they also provide family planning services, sexually transmitted disease testing, and overall medical checkups. In the past five years, over four million breast cancer screenings were conducted at Planned Parenthood health centers. Without funds from organizations such as Komen, those women who cannot afford run-of-the-mill health insurance and find out they have health problems have very little options. They may not be able to receive the help they need.

You’re really going to completely halt funding to a non-profit that has saved thousands of women’s lives? REALLY?

If this was an organization focused on prostrate cancer, there probably wouldn’t even be an issue. I am sick to my stomach over these gross and deliberate oversights concerning the female body. Don’t we deserve respect? Why are we not getting the treatment we deserve?

I think the fact that most clearly illustrates the seriousness of this dire lack of deference is the top Twitter trends of February 1, 2012. Instead of “#standwithPP”, the hashtag for any supporters of Planned Parenthood, one instead found “Boobie Miles”, or my personal favorite, “#LeaveThatHoe.”

When all the “hoes” in America start dropping like flies due to untreated cancer, maybe then a change will come. Fingers crossed.

POST SCRIPT

This article was typed in a fury on this past Wednesday night, as I furiously spewed out my roiling anger onto my laptop, trying desperately to keep this piece coherent. But news like this makes me absolutely livid, and it was hard to maintain an air of serenity that so often accompanies the act of composition.
Is it too political, too feminist? Too preachy? Should I even care? I found myself asking these questions over and over again, not knowing where I was going with article and almost too upset to really care.

But it doesn’t matter anymore.

It is now Friday night, and I have returned from a long night at work to discover that the Komen decision has been reversed. Due to the outcries from both the public and the private sectors all across the nation, the foundation has decided to continue its funding to Planned Parenthood after all.

In addition, Planned Parenthood has managed to raise over a million dollars in donations just from the past four days.

So perhaps we are a more progressive country than I thought we were. If millions of people can come together and show enormous outpourings of concern and support for a so-called “questionable” or “liberal” non-profit such as Planned Parenthood, maybe there is hope. Maybe women’s healthcare isn’t as backwards as it seems.

But it actually still does matter. Regardless of any reversal of decisions, there is still much to be done until women’s health issues are truly at the level they should be at. And as much as it warms my heart that the people of America came together and changed this landmark political move, the battle is not yet won. Not even close.

But nicely done, nation. Nicely done.

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