When The Value Of Your Life Is Determined By Politics

What should we make of the Komen/Planned Parenthood (PP) debacle? Are you deciding if we should feel uplifted because Komen turned around and did the right thing? Or should we be disheartened at how politics play such a large role in our society, especially women’s healthcare? I feel a little bit of both.

Photo courtesy of Army Medicine

An organization like Susan G. Komen, that we have come to trust over the years, goes and pulls a stunt like this. And for what? Political appeasement? We have seen that organizations like Komen do amazing work and save numerous lives. Working for a nonprofit myself, I greatly appreciate that. But we also need to hold such organizations accountable. It is not okay for organizations to veer from their  mission  in favor of a political agenda.

Healthcare, especially, should not be dependent on one’s personal politics. Anyone’s views on abortion versus pro-choice should not be determining whether individuals can be screened for breast cancer. Life and death should not be played with in this manner. There's just no excuse for it. Does someone deserve to die (because they were never able to screen for breast cancer in time) because their healthcare provider has different political beliefs than the conservative right? If so, I’m not so sure what makes our country any different than those that practice brutal political persecution.

Photo courtesy of Natalie Maynor

Fortunately, citizens did not stay quiet in this case. There was a social media uproar against Komen and its decision. Petitions, emails, Facebook shares, Twitter hash tags all show individuals’ disgust with Komen and frustration with its hypocrisy. Plenty of people pledged to never donate a dime to Komen again. The complaints did not fall on deaf ears, but rather, proved successful. Nancy Brinker, Komen's founder, gave a public apology on its actions and said PP would be eligible to continue applying for future grants.

The main takeaway I have from this is that change really is possible through our actions! I know so many people that have become apathetic and jaded. People often have a hard time believing that anything they do can actually make a difference and change things. While I agree that what we are often up against can be very daunting, I truly believe that we all can make a difference, individually, but even more so collectively. This was an example of us doing just that. People are especially skeptical of signing petitions online, thinking that they won’t accomplish anything, but look what that did in this case. It made our voice heard to Komen and made it clear that we would not stand for this. If we could get more people to believe that such change is possible, just imagine the impact we could have on the world!

Photo courtesy of Sunsets_for_You

Throw away that apathy and take action! You may think something as simple as signing a petition won't do anything, but it clearly will! Tweet your anger. Facebook it. Maybe even hack into a website! Of course, that is not where the work should end, but it can be a great start. Let the world, and the individuals and organizations you are angry with, know that you won't put up with objectionable behavior.

Unfortunately, in this case, the fight is not yet over. We don't want to tell Komen that they're in the clear. Many posts have gone up since the decision saying that Komen has not yet committed to funding PP moving forward. Karen Handel, an anti-abortion conservative, was recently hired as Komen's Senior VP and supposedly played a very large role in the decision to pull funding, and still holds her post at the organization. I agree that we need to make sure we watch Komen's actions on PP into the future and keep the pressure on. Let's not let them get away with denying healthcare to women because of politics.

But I do still consider this a success. Our voice was heard loud and clear. And it made Komen realize that it can't play politics with us when it comes to women’s healthcare. Komen will think twice before disappointing the public like this again. As will other organizations. And that means something big!

If organizations want to play politics with issues as important as women’s lives, they should know who their opponents are. In this case, millions of good-hearted individuals came together and drew a line. When you play politics against the people, you lose every time.