Let’s Talk About Komen (& Why I’m Leaving the BlogHer Network)
I drafted this post last night. I should have published it then because now it seems like pro-lifers such as myself (and many but not all of my readers) are too late, or Planned Parenthood is too much of a bully. I just saw this article. Komen is backing off its decision to defund Planned Parenthood. There’s this from Creative Minority Report, too. Sigh.
I’m still going to publish my original post below because the point I make about needing to make our voice heard is more important than ever. In addition, my point about not understanding why people were so upset since Komen’s original decision simply prevented Planned Parenthood from funneling money to other organizations that provide low-cost mammograms is a valid one. Komen’s new (and now, it seems, reneged) policy intended to give the grants directly to the organizations that provided the low-cost mammograms rather than providing the money directly to Planned Parenthood to refer women to get the mammograms elsewhere. What’s the problem with here? The fact that Komen, instead of Planned Parenthood, has been accused of turning this in to a left-right issue boggles my mind. I’ve also seen arguments from people who were angry with Komen suggest that this isn’t about being pro-life or pro-choice; it’s about caring about women. It’s a human issue, not a health issue. Um, how is abortion not a human issue as well as a health issue? Oh, that’s right because abortion doesn’t kill babies. It helps women. No matter that having an abortion is linked to an increased risk of depression and addiction.
I guess the mama bear in me has finally reared its mad, I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore-head!
At any rate, here’s my original post:
I’m not a particularly courageous person. It’s not that I’m not brave because I am. I caught a snake that had found its way into our laundry room all my own and freed it outside, for example. However, my vanity and my desire to be a people-pleaser usually wins out and tempers my bravery. I’m not concerned what snakes think of me.
But when it comes to protecting my family or looking out for my children, the chutzpah in me takes over and I can be downright feisty. Just ask my husband who’s close to me and knows my inner strength or the big kid at the playground who kicked my toddler down the slide (true story). The mama bear in me is strong and easily revved up if someone threatens my children. Do. Not. Test. Me.
Today I found myself asking myself why I was only considering my children to be the four children whom I carried in my womb and now live under the same roof as I do. Why wasn’t I extending my mama bear instincts to the rest of children – including the most fragile and precious ones of all? The tiny ones without a voice? The ones who need me to be a roaring mama bear if they have any chance of being heard?
It comes right down to fear, fear of being misunderstood, fear of rejection, fear that not everyone will like me, fear that I’ll offend someone even if I make every effort to express my opinions in a charitable way. It also can just be downright exhausting to put my pro-life views out there even when people are charitable about disagreeing. I just don’t have the time to ping-pong rational arguments back and forth.
But this mama bear is putting her fears and vanity aside and climbing, claws clenched, atop her soapbox today. I know for certain I have several pro-choice readers. I always welcome benevolent discourse, but I’m putting it on the record that I’m not going to feel like I have to defend anything I say here. Take it or leave it, my friends.
Like many of my fellow pro-lifers, I was thrilled when I heard the news that the breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure had announced it was ceasing to disperse all grants and further donations to Planned Parenthood. I never understood the relationship in the first place. One organization has a mission set on saving lives; the other one – no matter how many primary care health services it provides – destroys lives. And not just those of babies. I happen to know women whose past abortion haunts them and has caused emotional damage. I also have a friend who worked as a doctor in a city ER and had to treat several women with perforated uteruses that were the result of botched up Planned Parenthood abortions, so many women are left with more than emotional scars. She can’t understand why anyone in the medical community – no matter their views on abortion – would be against an investigation into an organization that provides medical services.
Now I’d like to believe the Susan G. Komen foundation is basing this recent decision on a pro-life stance. That’s what Planned Parenthood and others who immediately started politicizing this announcement are raging about – that Komen is choosing sides and has been bullied by the mean, old pro-lifers to stop supporting Planned Parenthood. Similarly, some of the pro-life announcements I’ve seen seem to think this decision is based entirely on pressure from the pro-life community. However, the way I see it is the non-profit organization’s new policy is a focused effort to be better steward of Komen’s resources. If your organization provides low-cost mammograms to women who need them, it will still be available for grants. Planned Parenthood offers manual breast exams in their clinics. It does not offer mammograms onsite. Instead, some Planned Parenthood locations provide grants to women to receive low-cost mammograms at other organizations. Why does Komen need a middle man? Why should Planned Parenthood receive money to give grants for mammograms to other organizations? Komen is wise to give the money directly to the clinics that actually give the breast cancer screenings rather than funneling it through Planned Parenthood (or any other establishment for that matter).
Likewise, I don’t understand why so many Planned Parenthood supporters are threatening to stop giving to Komen. Were you only giving to Komen to support Planned Parenthood, or were you interested in finding a cure for breast cancer and/or helping it to be detected early in women of all socioeconomic levels? You can still give to Komen and then also write a check directly Planned Parenthood. Opponents of the decision are arguing that Komen’s decision is going to reduce access to care to women who need lifesaving screening exams but as I pointed out above, this policy change really just removes an unnecessary middle man. The very people who are going to stop giving to Komen because of reduced access to care are the real ones who will be disenfranchising women looking for affordable breast screenings. If they’re not only concerned about the breast screenings, then, again, like I just said give directly to Planned Parenthood.
As for those of you who are pro-life and agree with Komen’s decision, make your voice heard. I have a friend who knows someone who works for the organization who left her job in tears yesterday because she spent the entire day answering the phone calls of angry people expressing their disdain for Komen’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood. She did not hear one single positive voice all day; no one on the other side of the issue took the time to applaud the organization for its decision to make saving lives its priority. I know many pro-lifers remain reluctant to make a donation because they’re unsure if this new Komen policy is set in stone. Others have argued that Komen still funds embryonic stem cell research, but this isn’t the case any longer. At any rate, if you’re not ready to put your money where your mouth is, then just use your mouth for now. Don’t feel like you need to write a check just yet, but do send email, write a letter, or make a phone call and say something positive about this turn of events.
Finally, if, like me, you happen to be a pro-life blogger, I wonder how you feel about being a part of the BlogHer Publishing Network now. I have no intention of partaking in any mud-slinging here. I’ve been honored to be a part of this Network for several years now despite the fact that the main page for BlogHer frequently pushes ideals I don’t subscribe to. But they do include a diverse group of voices in their networks and people who are on both sides of the fence politically and some who don’t even know or care that there’s a political fence. Whatever their views, the caliber of bloggers in this network never fails to impress me. BlogHer and its founders and employees have built word by word, blog by blog, a tremendous social media community. The Network has empowered women from all walks of life as well as given us a voice – and a very powerful one at that. I’m also extremely indebted to BlogHer for paying me to engage in something I love to do, especially since so many organizations fail to put their money where their mouths are and ask writers to blog for free (and I am trained journalist by trade; this is my work). Likewise, I’ve enjoyed other perks of being a part of BlogHer such as receiving free samples, gift cards, review opportunities, etc. The publishing network also offered you great freedom in choosing the type of ads you wanted to appear on your site, so if a certain product – something that wasn’t environmentally friendly, contraception, etc. – wasn’t something you’d want to support, you could refuse it.
But this freedom, the paycheck, the other perks, and the sense of community cannot make up for my recent unease. Yesterday I received a BlogHer newsletter with a headlined piece written by BlogHer co-founder and CEO Lisa Stone. She wrote,
You know where BlogHer stands: We’re non-partisan because we exist to create a global stage where our bloggers can be sopartisan. And as an American, I’m religious about your right to free speech, no matter what side of the abortion issue you embrace.
That said, I must also share that I am horrified by this turn of events, at a time when America’s health care lags at #37 and exhibits dramatic differences based on race and income. Just as women are about more than our breasts, so is health care for women about more than abortions. [emphasis hers] Especially the kind of primary health care that Planned Parenthood has been providing for years to women and children who otherwise couldn’t afford it.
I hope the Susan G. Komen organization is listening.
Non-partisan? Well, I’ve loved writing as part of the BlogHer Publishing Network. That said, farewell.
This wasn’t an easy decision. It’s not like I make tons of money from the affiliation, but it does have its perks and I’m just a peon standing up against a media-machine. I guarantee no one at BlogHer will be losing any sleep over the fact that that crazy, Catholic mama Kate Wicker is leaving the BlogHer Network. But change always starts out small doesn’t it? One rain droplet and there’s a ring of ripples on the glassy surface of a pond. One voice speaks up and says she won’t stand for this, and maybe others join her.
No, making the decision to break my affiliation with BlogHer wasn’t easy. Drafting this post wasn’t particularly easy either (partly because we’ve been engaged in some serious germ warfare around here, and I’m just wiped out), but last night I talked to a friend who stood up as the only vocal pro-lifer out of more than 100 students in a policy-making classes. That took courage, chutzpah, and she’s just starting to tap into her mama bear instincts. Her first baby is in utero, and she/he kept kicking every time someone mentioned Planned Parenthood. Courage must run in families.
If she could stand out like that, then I certainly could put this blog post out there and have the courage to leave the media megastar, BlogHer*.
So that’s what I’m doing. And I’m going to contact Komen, too, as I urged you to do above. I also ask other pro-women, pro-life bloggers out there to take a stand and step out of your comfort zone, even if you don’t usually blog about serious issues. Unleash your mama bear. We are all spiritual mothers whether we have our own children or not, and we owe it to them to speak up.
Now I just need to start my own publishing network that financially backs bloggers who are pro-life, pro-women, and new feminists. Seriously, it’s a good idea, isn’t it? I’d be all over it if I didn’t have four little ones who need a hands-on mama more than a media maven.
*Since BlogHer makes agreements with advertisers about how many blogs will be showcasing their ads, I’m not able to pull my BlogHer advertising immediately. In fact, I have to find out when my one-year contract ends, but I am only allowed to pull out after it ends after filing a 60-days written notice. I’ve already submitted my written notice and am waiting to see what the next step is.