Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I've Got Something to Say

As a woman living in the United States, it's frustrating to see the inequality apparent in my gender's healthcare access. I am not going to stand on a soap-box here and rant about feminism, or women's rights. What I am going to do is talk about the disappointment I felt upon discovering that the Susan G. Komen Foundation decided to cut funding for breast cancer screenings that were being provided to millions of women through Planned Parenthood.

I consider myself to be an engaged community volunteer, and advocate for women's health.  I donate money to organizations whose mission it is to provide healthcare access to women, especially if they are reaching under or uninsured communities, or serving populations in developing countries.  I serve on boards, committees, and donate my time to helping local organizations such as The Midwife Center, Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh Affiliate, and Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania further their missions.  Because their missions are ones that I am passionate about, and that I believe strengthen the community I live in.

I was happy serving and supporting these organizations, but upon learning of Komen's decision to pull funding for cancer screening from Planned Parenthood, I was shocked and severely disheartened.  Komen's mission is to eradicate breast cancer. The best chance women have against breast cancer is early detection.  How pulling funding from this imperative screening, is in line with eradicating breast cancer is a mystery to me. I cannot see how this decision from the Komen Foundation will do anything except harm the women who were dependent on these services, and as I believe strongly in women's access to healthcare, I have pulled my support, and resigned from the YP advisory board of the Pittsburgh Affiliate of the Komen Foundation.

I really like the staff at the Komen Pittsburgh affiliate. They said they understood and respected my decision, and that the affiliate would be working to ensure that women and men continue to have access to cancer screening. It must be a difficult situation for the Komen affiliates around the country, not being involved in this decision making, which came from the National Office. Still, I feel that this move directly contradicts their mission, and so I am out.

I know that Planned Parenthood is a controversial organization, and a politically charged topic.  However, I cannot help but think that most of those who oppose it, are largely misinformed of the services the organization provides, or the benefits it brings, not just to women, but to men as well.  As someone who has used Planned Parenthood's health services, and supports the work that they do, I am determined  to stand with Planned Parenthood. Access to healthcare should be a human right, not a privilege.

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