Millions of women battling breast cancer have counted on the pink ribbon as a symbol of hope, solidarity and strength. Now even that has been taken away, thanks to right-wing leaders who think they have more rights to control our bodies than we do.

I’ve been a conflicted supporter of Susan G. Komen for years (I’ll get to that in a minute), so their decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, hiding behind a ludicrous congressional investigation, makes cutting my ties with them a little easier.  

There are two tragedies here: 1) that our system is so screwed up that any politician can initiate a bogus investigation – in this case, tainting Planned Parenthood with that tired old abortion scandal that we all know is a lie, and 2) that influential, trusted organizations allow themselves to be pressured by these extremists. 

Planned Parenthood received $680,000 in 2011 from Komen, which has paid for 170,000 clinical breast and 6,400 mammogram referrals for the organization since 2005. Because of the right-wing’s absolute disdain for a woman’s ability to make her own choices, and their absurd conviction that only they know what’s right, tens of thousands of women will go without the life-saving mammograms they can’t afford.

Just like because of the outrageous, mean-spirited right-wing attacks on abortion rights and abortion providers, more women will be at risk of health complications and more children will be born into difficult circumstances. Meanwhile, the right-wingers pass laws that make it harder for people to donate money to nonprofits that DO take care of these struggling folks and drive arbitrary restrictions on which loving individuals can adopt the children of unintended pregnancies (oh no, not the gays!). 

And here in Michigan, the mostly male Legislature is busy passing laws that are demoralizing and dangerous to women. And by caving in now, organizations like Komen are buying into the anti-woman agenda.

Now, as the sister of (an incredibly strong!) breast cancer survivor, I know that the pink ribbon and the entire Susan G. Komen mystique is vitally important to those struggling with this damn disease and mourning those it has taken.  I’ve bought every permutation of pink/pink ribbon product you can imagine, because it cheered my sister up, and I’ve collected far too many Komen race shirts. 

But here’s the thing:  Komen’s CEO made a sickening $459,406 a year in 2009-10 (more than 5,000 race entry fees); their senior vice president is on the record as not supporting Planned Parenthood’s “mission”; and like many, I’ve become increasingly aware of, and disgusted by, “Big Pink” – an industry that, frankly, too often exploits and manipulates people with questionable results. 

So what can we do?

Because our money matters:  Instead of donating to Komen, consider donating directly to Planned Parenthood to support them and ensure services are delivered directly in our community.

Because our voices matter:  Lots of folks will still give money to the flawed Komen organization and participate in their events. So sign our petition telling Komen to re-fund Planned Parenthood and stop caving in to right-wing pressure.

Because our votes matter:  We hear it again and again, and examples like this should make it sink in: Elections matter.  Mobilize, organize and strategize TODAY to put people in power who respect the needs and rights of women come Nov. 6. Our lives depend on it.


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