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.



Enter the Conversation...

64 Responses to “Let’s Talk About Komen (& Why I’m Leaving the BlogHer Network)”
  1. Ann Beall says:

    Good for you Kate! I am please to see you stand up for what you believe in and I pray that all Catholics will follow your lead!

  2. Marie says:

    Love this piece, Kate. You are a strong voice, for pro-life issues, for women, for Catholics, and for all the babies you are protecting! BlogHer SHOULD lose sleep about this, in my opinion. : )

    You should know, we’ve joked at Behold meetings that maybe we could become the “Catholic BlogHer” – so maybe you’ve got a good idea there!

    • Kate Wicker says:

      Seriously, Marie. Let’s do it. I’ve already talked to my dad who has an amazing gift for marketing, and we’re brainstorming how we could launch a Catholic social media publishing network. I’m going to pray about this, but maybe we really could make it a reality!

      • Milehimama says:

        I’d be willing to help with this. My company Shiny Things Media is dedicated to connecting bloggers and brands, I would love to take on a project like this with you!

      • What Marie said is true! If there is a way that we can use Behold to gather Catholic women to write about our dignity and vocations (think of all the ways that could be tackeled!) we would love to help. Perhaps this is something we can discuss Friday night at the Behold blogger summit.

      • If my little blog is big enough to be a part, I’d love to get in on your Catholic social media network. Brilliant idea Kate! Keep me updated if it becomes a reality!

        • Candace says:

          I am not Catholic, but did find myself wishing for a CHRISTIAN BlogHer through this whole saga. Maybe as Christians (of all denominations) we could join together and be a light to the blog world. :)

          Kate, thank you for making me aware of this issue. I did not know anything about BlogHer’s position until reading this on your blog. I, too, have benefitted from their ads on my blog for quite awhile now…but after clicking around the site and seeing NOT ONE POST from the “other side” of the issue…and reading your post, I feel that i need to take a stand as well.

          Kate, I plan to share about this issue on my blog, too…and I probably will quote you, as you’ve said what I would need to say. :) Of course, I will always link back to you.


          • Kate Wicker says:

            I was thinking a pro-life, Christian network would be awesome. Now I just need to figure out how to add more hours to my day. Thank you for your support and solidarity, Candace. God bless!

          • Candace says:

            I know, Kate! It’s hard as a mother of little ones to think about adding anything to our plates! :)

  3. Mamabearjd says:

    I am emotionally drained by the Komen saga, and so so sad at the ugliness it brought forth. I have a very dear friend whose Tweets on the matter made me question a 25 year friendship. Your post made me feel a little better – it is a real bummer to always feel like I have to defend myself for being pro life – somehow I have to show that I’m not a monster. It’s absurd, isn’t it? Thanks so much for this post. Good for you for leaving Blogher.

  4. Jennifer Schaefer says:

    Bravo, Kate!

  5. Erika Ahern says:

    Encore! That was fabulous. Good for you for pulling out. Mama Bears are out in full force!

  6. Ellen-TCMom says:

    BRAVO!!!!!! My hat is off to you for your bravery and strength!

  7. Roselady says:

    Loved what you wrote about being a mama bear for the unborn. That’s a good image. And, I applaud you for being able to say bye bye to blogher. Not easy, I’m sure. It gives you some clout, being associated with them, and that in itself is hard to say goodbye to…And, maybe someday a Catholic mama in-between babies will have time to organize all of us online in a big Catholic blog unit. Good idea.
    I swear there are so many good things coming from all this. There’s HHS. Komen. And the recent flap up at Notre dame.: http://abovethelaw.com/2012/02/a-contraception-controversy-and-an-atl-debate/
    The whole country is talking abortion (not the settled law they think it is); we’re actually bringing up the point that contraception is still an issue, too — a major plus for our side! And, now people know they need to look closer at associations. I knew about Komen and PP beforehand, but most people didn’t. Any publicity can be good publicity for our side. Even if we don’t totally win on Komen, or HHS.

  8. Roselady says:

    We could call it BlogForHer…and I’m sure everyone could figure out who the “her” is…though, I think it would put a little pressure on all of us to up our holiness factor.

  9. MamabearJD says:

    I think you have a lot of women who are ready and willing to support such a network, especially after this week of nasty digital media!

  10. Andrea says:

    Proudly standing behind you 100%!

  11. Thank you for taking a stand, Kate. Frankly my head is SPINNING from most of what I read in the news lately, so it’s comforting to have a network of sources (i.e. my tried-and-true Catholic bloggers) who hold fast to the truth.

    We need to stay the course! It’s hard, though, with the way the boat is rocking.

  12. Thanks for calling this to our attention, Kate. I didn’t get this note from BlogHer but did look it up on Lisa Stone’s blog. I share your disappointment with Lisa’s support of PP, but I have to say that I am heartened by the discussion that has followed.

    One thing I noticed from her post was the pain that she’s in: the pain of watching a blogging friend die a horrible death from breast cancer; of having a mother who’s a breast cancer survivor; of knowing that it’s only a matter of time until she gets the disease herself. I wonder if perhaps she had a knee-jerk reaction and didn’t take a closer look at PP before writing her post in support of them? Also, I noticed that what she wrote did not come out in favor of abortion per se, but was supporting PP as an organization that provides mammograms. There are a lot of people out there who honestly don’t know about PP’s deplorable history in that department.

    It seems like she’s open to hearing different perspectives. When someone wrote in the comments expressing disagreement and disappointment that a BlogHer founder would take this stance, Stone wrote:

    “Your comment, and the tenor of the comments below are an excellent demonstration of BlogHer’s non-partisan forum in action. I’m so proud of this community and the tradition of free speech and respectful discourse we’ve built on this site over the past seven years. Thank you for extending that tradition into this topic. Because of that tradition, I don’t feel that any one member — including me — has the power to threaten the safe environment of our forums by sharing personal views on this subject…I wanted to talk with you all — as a woman, as a voter and as a constituent of these organizations, I appreciate the environment on BlogHer and wanted the opportunity to hear what you all are thinking. I hope this helps explain where I’m coming from. And I hope provides you with the sense of security I know I seek when I’m putting myself out there.”

    Maybe some of us pro-lifers could leave some comments pointing to resources she could check out to see that PP is really not a pro-woman organization?

    I’m counting on you to lead the charge here since your book is finished and mine’s not. 😉

    Thanks for having the courage to speak out about this!

    • Kate Wicker says:

      Jen, thanks for this. I really appreciate your input, and I’m glad you posted Lisa’s generous and charitable response. Please know I had no intention of making other Catholic and/or pro-life bloggers who are in the Network feel like they are conscience-violators if they stay involved. BlogHer is powerful; it needs voices like yours. I just personally felt as a small fry that I needed to take a stand. I’ve always believed that many issues are not black and white and that we have to keep our eyes on our own work and heart and discern what the best path is for us. This feels right for me, but it’s surely not right for everyone.

      I do wish that media affiliated with the Church – including new media – could put its money where its mouth is more. I never was asked to write for free when I worked in secular media; now it happens all the time. I was so grateful for BlogHer to actually pay me to blog and to write and to not ask for something for nothing.

      Lisa’s response was well-written and generous; however, as co-founder and CEO, she does have more power. I still feel her taking a stand on this issue was out of place and definitely demonstrated a partisan position, especially since her post was headlined as in a BlogHer e-newsletter (and wasn’t simply a blog post of many featured on the BlogHer homepage).

      As I stated in my letter requesting that I leave the Network, I would have not felt as much unease if the sole message in the e-newsletter had not been this post. Another side/perspective could have been shared.

      Likewise, I, by no means, intend to undermine the pain that Lisa or anyone else has suffered due to breast cancer touching their family. Ironically, just today my mom received the good news that a breast biopsy was benign (she lost her mother/my grandmother to breast cancer). I’m sure Lisa was emotionally charged; yet, I also think this offers evidence that bigger media figures can claim to be “balanced” and “unbiased,” but they sometimes cannot help but marble in their own agenda. I don’t fault Lisa. I don’t fault anyone who chooses to remain involved with BlogHer, but after talking it over with my husband, my dad, and a very close friend of mine (and praying about it, too), I just felt like this was the right course of action for me.

      I never want to come off as “holier than thou” though, especially since I am currently sitting on a toilet in a locked bathroom completely ignoring several children who are tired and ready to go to sleep. :-)

      The irony of this all is that I never intended to be a Catholic writer per se. I started my career as a journalist and, in fact, wrote for a very slanted (not in my direction) publication for some time. I sort of just fell into it, or God pushed me into it. Either way, I’ve landed here. I always wanted to write literary fiction or perhaps a children’s novel, and I may have just blown my chances for getting that Great American Novel published. Thankfully, by the time I actually sit down to crank the thing out, people will probably have completely forgotten there ever existed a rambling blogger by my name who took a very small stand one very small day – if they haven’t already forgotten!

  13. Roselady says:

    Wow, that was a great addition about BlogHer, Jennifer…more to think about…

  14. Kate,
    One mama in Virginia is standing in her kitchen and applauding your courage. Quiet virtue. All good.

  15. yes and YES and YES!!! Way to go, Kate.

  16. Colleen says:

    Waiting for the Catholic Mama Bear Blogher to start :) You’re awesome, Kate!

  17. Chancita says:

    I think the reason that planned parenthood is a necessary “middleman” is because women go to the clinic for services (let’s just assume that they aren’t there for an abortion), receive a breast exam they might not otherwise have performed (either on themselves OR by another doctor), something abnormal is detected and they are then referred on to another location where they can receive a necessary mammogram (thereby benefitting from that Komen grant). Without the “middleman” those women would probably not proceed directly to a mammogram clinic at all thereby making the Komen grant reach fewer women. I think your wording is interesting – Planned Parenthood “bullied” Komen into reversing their decision? So, it’s ok to pressure and applaud if you are on one side of the issue, but the people on the otherside are “bullying”?

    • Kate Wicker says:

      Chancita, thanks for chiming in here. I don’t think either side should bully. If you go back and read my post, I wrote, “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.” I never said anything PP bullying Komen.

      As for your other assertion, you make a valid point about women going to PP and receiving a breast exam and then possibly being referred to a low-cost mammogram. However, auxiliary medical professionals (not doctors or even always registered nurses) almost always perform these breast exams. They are really no different than the ones a woman performs in the shower (in fact, women know their own breasts the best and are probably more likely to detect nuances if they perform regular BSEs). Likewise, some health organizations have come out saying breast exams are ineffective in detecting breast cancer and may even lead to unnecessary testing, which drives up health costs for all of us. Thus, it doesn’t make sense to give a referral organization huge grants for breast health when other organizations such as hospitals offering mobile mammography units in rural areas or areas with less access to health could make a lot better use of grant money to reach a wider population.

    • Kate Wicker says:

      Chancita, one more point with your arguing that PP needs to be a middle man.

      Komen is a non-profit with limited resources. It has the responsibility to be the best stewards of its funds. I think we can all agree on that. So for now, let’s put my pro-life and others’ pro-choice (or pro-Planned Parenthood; that’s one in the same to me) beliefs aside and just look at this issue from a practical standpoint. Planned Parenthood primarily serves women of reproductive age; yet, screening mammograms are recommended to start at age 50 unless you have an increased risk of breast cancer. Thus, Planned Parenthood’s target population is not the women who really should be getting mammograms. Komen has limited resources, so doesn’t it simply make more fiscal sense to give grants to organizations that directly bring mammograms to the population that is most at risk for getting breast cancer such as offering grants to mobile mammography units, charitable health clinics, organizations that provide health fairs, etc.?

      This doesn’t mean that Planned Parenthood doesn’t catch any breast cancer because maybe one of its manual breast exams does lead to an early cancer diagnosis and a saved life, but how many more lives could be saved if the money was directed elsewhere? If you’re not pushing a pro-choice agenda (and maybe you’re not), then this is the question you should want Komen to answer and if they find more lives are saved giving the money to organizations other than PP, then why couldn’t you have supported this decision?

      • Chancita says:

        “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” (from your introduction)

        You have a good point about the target age of the women going to PP. That holds water.

        I responded to Becca and to your blog post because of the plethora of comments I saw describing this as a decision that was based on the fact that PP provides abortion. Interestingly enough, it was only my anti-choice friends who made this assertion. Prior to that, I did not realize that Komen foundation grant recipients were such a point of contention. Specifically, I did not realize that “Christians” and “pro-lifers” did not like it that Komen gave grants to PP based on the fact that they provide abortions. I do not think the decision of whether or not Komen gives grants to PP should be based on whether or not they provide abortions. I completely agree that it should be based on whether or not they are able to prevent or detect breast cancer by using those funds.

        Certainly given the amount of $$ Komen spends administratively, they should be able to make wise decisions that support their mission statement of saving women’s lives from breast cancer. To that end, I’m sure there is a place for PP as well as other organizations to receive grants to further this goal. I personally do not think that the criteria should include whether or not the group provides abortions (or “morning after pills” or contraception that may result in an aborted embryo) as it seems you do.

        Clearly I am not your target audience and probably would never have read your blog if it hadn’t been linked by a mutual friend on facebook. Having said that, I think it’s unfortunate that we all continue to have a debate that is largely based on rhetoric and labels. I will always continue to hope that abortion will become obsolete. Until we have 100% foolproof birth control for sexually active people, widespread community support for raising children and a 0% rape rate in our world, that will not happen. Unfortunately, the truth of illegal abortion is forgotten by our younger generations. There is a reason that the coathanger is a symbol for the pro-choice (which by the way does not = pro-death) movement. I personally know older women who almost died from illegal abortions. I don’t know a single women who has had an abortion who has done it from a place of happiness or free-choice or who has not dealt with the grief that it has caused. I continue to hope that the world will change so significantly that abortion and the pain that it causes will become obsolete.

        • Roselady says:

          Women can still die/have complications from legal abortions. In fact, that probably happens more than ever knowing how many women get them — esp. because they are legal and accessible. The abortion industry does not have the reputation of being all neat and tidy, in the first place; doctors are often the bottom of the barrel and health violations close down clinics. What’s perhaps more important, however, is that women mentally suffer after abortions, emotional trauma. No doubt mental health is part of women’s health. Our mental strength is what helps us be what we are. Women feel forced into abortions because they’re legal, because there’s no other option, because they’re boyfriends/friends/families pressure them into it — and then many never feel mentally at rest again. The fact that they are legal makes women vulnerable here, and unprotected from the unforeseen assault on their psyches.

          • Chancita says:

            Women can also die and have complications from pregnancy and childbirth. There are women who regret having their children and women who suffer emotional trauma from the process of parenting. I do not think that I said if abortions stay legal, there would be no emotional or physical ramifications.
            “I don’t know a single women who has had an abortion who has done it from a place of happiness or free-choice or who has not dealt with the grief that it has caused.”

        • Kate Wicker says:

          Chancita, first of all you’d be surprised by how many pro-choice women read my blog. I’m a fairly crunchy mom, so I attract some readers who want to hear about natural childbirth, gentle parenting, breastfeeding, etc., but they do not share my religious and/or pro-life beliefs. I’ve written about the irony of passionate moms who are advocates for children but not pro-life here. At any rate, I’m glad you made it over here. I read articles/blogs that others who don’t share my views write because it’s important for me to be aware of all sides of the issue.

          I do have to charitably disagree with you suggesting it was pro-lifers who made Komen’s decision about being pro-life v. pro-choice. Here’s the thing: Komen’s partnership with Komen has always been about pro-lifers’ position against abortion. You’re right: We don’t want our money going to support an organization that supports destroying life even if they do do some good. They’re in the business of abortion, not providing primary health care to women. I encourage you to read Abby Johnson’s Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line . Another great read is Jennifer Fulwiler’s “A Sexual Revolution” article in which she shares her journey from a pro-choice atheist to a pro-life Catholic.

          I’m well aware of the Cider House Rules argument against abortion. I have a dear friend who would take your side saying that abortion needs to end, but that it won’t end until we have 100 percent contraception. Again, here’s the thing: The only foolproof contraception is abstinence. And, in fact, the rise in contraception has increased the abortion rate, not reduced it. Why? Because babies are now seen as a mistake – something went wrong! Men no longer have as much fear about sleeping with women because they don’t think a baby is possible or if a woman does get pregnant, there’s a backup plan called abortion. I’m not saying people still wouldn’t be sleeping together, but contraception has only hurt women – and children.

          I see abortion as taking the life of another human being. This does not mean, however, that I see the babies as having more meaning than the woman who finds herself pregnant; I see women and the babies growing inside of them as humans with equal dignity. Yet, I do not believe it is morally justifiable to deny any form of humanity – no matter how small and voiceless – the basic right to life just because the bigger and more obvious person has made a difficult choice, and I don’t think for a minute that abortion is ever an easy choice or fix.

          As you mentioned, abortion hurts women emotionally. You seem to think keeping it legal keeps it safe, but this just isn’t the case. I mentioned my friend who is a doctor. She has had to treat several women with perforated uteruses, and it was revealed PP performed the abortions. (More on this in a minute.)

          It’s worth noting that even when abortion was illegal in the U.S., it was not considered a form of homicide because our current legal system affirms that murder can only take place after birth; interestingly, though, someone who murders a pregnant woman can be charged with a double homicide in some states.

          As someone who is committed to the pro-life movement, I do not see babies as the only victims of abortion. Women, men, and society at large all pay a price when we’ve decided it’s morally permissible to get rid of our young. When abortion was made legal, we promised women freedom. But women who have abortions experience no such thing. When our best solution to an unexpected pregnancy is to pressure a woman to reject her maternal instincts instead of encouraging her that either A) she is capable of being a mother or B) that adoption is a selfless option that will give your baby life without leaving as many scars behind as abortion does, we are failing women. We’re turning them into helpless and powerless victims. The abortion industry tries to cover up the fact that a pregnancy (planned or not, easy or difficult), on the most basic biological level, plants within a woman the impulse to protect and nurture the new life in her womb. Abortions force women to ignore this impulse, and there are emotional, physical, and sometimes spiritual ramifications. I have a friend who works with women in crisis pregnancies. Some still choose to abort their babies even after counseling – although this is very rare – and she says she has had women come back 10, 15 years later and say that they thought it was no big deal for a long time, but for some reason they can’t find a fulfilling relationship, or they now have an addiction or an eating disorder. The subterranean sadness and guilt and regret eventually surface in some form or another.

          By making abortion the “solution” for an unintended pregnancy, we are abandoning women. We’re basically saying sex has no consequences (so long as you use protection) and if something goes wrong in the form of a baby, we can fix it. But we do no such thing. I’ve had a woman write to me anonymously about the pain an abortion has left her with. She had no support when she became pregnant. She was not in a loving relationship. She was raised in a God-fearing family with the kind of pro-lifers I have admonished in other writings who make the baby the sin and throw out women who become pregnant or expect them to wear a scarlet letter. She was understandably scared. She was told a simple procedure could make everything go away, but all it did was make the baby go away. After her abortion, she became bulimic. She also started using drugs. Today, thanks to what she referred to as God’s grace, she has forgiven herself and is in a happy marriage and has several children; yet, she says not a day goes by when she doesn’t think of the baby she got rid of.

          When we suggest the freedom to “choose” and to eliminate life is the path to happiness, we’re fooling women. We’re betraying them. We’re forcing them to deny their own humanity as well as femininity, to deny the humanity of their children, and to deny a very fundamental concept that deciding the quality of life of one person is worth more than the simply the chance to live is wrong.

          Even when abortion was illegal, women were very rarely prosecuted. Instead, they were encouraged to offer testimony and/or hand over evidence against the abortionists.

          Moral relativism may work when applied to the level of empathy certain groups of people have for animals, but denying that there are moral absolutes when it comes to humanity is walking a very dangerous line. My friends who are pro-choice are not for killing babies. On the contrary, they are caring, compassionate human beings who see abortion often as a last resort option for stopping the growth within a woman who finds herself in a crisis pregnancy. It seems unfair to say a woman who has an unintended pregnancy should be expected to have a child she did not plan or perhaps thinks she does not want. (I could argue for days about how we tend to disassociate pregnancy with the child growing in the womb. We may not want a pregnancy. We may not want the fear that comes with the prospect of having a child or having another child. We may not want the money concerns bearing a child may bring. But is it really the baby we don’t want? Is the baby we choose to scrape out of our wombs and dispose of what we want to get rid of, or is it really the fear or maybe even just the physical and emotional suffering pregnancy may bring a woman who is young or lonely or poor or still in school?)

          Likewise, some pro-choice proponents appeal to the belief that an unwanted child is a tragedy (but as I said above, are children really unwanted?). We ought to protect children from being born into difficult situations. But once a child is conceived, her or she is already thrown into that situation. What gives any of us the power to decide if a life is worth living?

          I continue to wonder why so many people who label themselves as pro-choice still want abortions reduced or claim to be personally opposed of abortion and even admit to believing in the sanctity of life or recognizing the truth portrayed in embryology textbooks that are not nebulous at all in stating when life begins. Why are these people personally opposed to abortion? Why do they want to reduce the number of abortions? If we see abortion as destroying life and/or causing women emotional and often physical pain, then why are we fine with keeping it legal and just trying to decrease the number of abortions? On the flip side, if abortion is morally acceptable, then why work so hard to make it rare or to determine the reasons women seek out abortions? And if we really want to reduce abortions, then wouldn’t making them illegal make the most sense? When this question is posed, I’m met with the argument that making abortion legal won’t end abortion. Sadly, this is a true statement, but it will reduce the number of abortions. Women in desperate situations (or perhaps those with enough money to go somewhere where abortion remains legal; impoverished women are so often the victims of abortions – illegal or not) will still get abortions, but, pro-choice proponents argue that now the procedure will be more dangerous and perhaps not as safe. Although so-called coat hanger abortions were far more rare even when abortion was illegal than some pro-choice advocates would have society believe (a leading abortionist turned committed pro-lifer, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, has admitted to fabricating evidence about the amount of unsafe abortions in order to advocate for legalizing abortion; I encourage you to read his books, The Hand of God and Aborting America), the regrettable truth is we cannot force a woman to keep a baby. Even if abortion was made illegal, unlawful abortions would still be an option just as it’s an option to break any laws we have. But this isn’t enough of a reason to permit something that is inherently wrong just because people will still do it. Men beat still beat their wives – sometimes even because of misguided morality believing that their physical dominance is a way to help their wives be more submissive – yet, we don’t turn the other way. We have laws to protect women from spousal abuse. Unborn children deserve no less protection.

          Between 1972 (the year before Roe v. Wade) and 1979, the U.S. abortion rate doubled. If pro-choice politicians really want to reduce abortions, then they should be fighting to make it illegal. And sadly, women are still dying or being harmed by abortions despite their “safety” and “efficacy.”

          But when I raise this issue, this is when moral relativism snakes its way back into the conversation. I would never get an abortion, but I believe it is wrong to impose my beliefs on someone else. Or, it’s not government’s role to tell a woman she has to keep a baby. This is also when the arguments when life truly begins usually enters into the dialogue. As a society, we’ve decided to lay the burden of proof on the unborn child. It is the fetus who must prove his or her humanity. Yet, we keep raising the bar on what it means to be human, especially as imaging technology continues to improve and we get up-close, detailed looks of the developing child in the womb. We continue to dehumanize this life and to ignore the science. Basic biology shows that at conception a unique organism comes into an existence. Even the tiny zygote meets the biological definition of being alive and boasts a unique genetic code. People will claim it’s my own personal religious beliefs that prompt me to take a pro-life stance. Not so. My religious beliefs mean I believe that a soul is present at conception; science shows that life is there, too. It’s also my faith that compels me to give the voiceless a voice rather than to stand silently by and to simply work to peacefully reduce abortions without making them illegal or offending anyone who might have different views than I do.

          Again, though, people will argue that there is ambiguity about when life begins. Even President Obama has gone on the record as saying that he is not sure when life begins. Yet, shouldn’t we then error on the side of caution? If you were hiking through the woods and came across a lake where you saw what looked like the body of a child crumpled along the shoreline, would you not check to make sure there was not an injured person as opposed to just walking onward because it was not black and white whether what you were looking at was really human at all? Maybe your eyes were just playing tricks on you and it was only a clump of old rags or a patch of odd plants growing. Look the other way. Keep walking.

          Finally, this is not a new comparison (or even a perfect analogy), but what if slavery abolitionists had adopted the same beliefs and pandered to moral relativism? Slavery gave legal authority to one class of people over another class of people. Our society made imprecise exceptions to the concept that each person has the right to life, liberty and property without due process. Slaves were not considered to be full citizens; they were people who went so far as to deny their personhood. Slavery alone robbed slaves of their humanity and innate dignity. Thankfully, people were willing to stand up to this inane way of thinking and perverse morality. Abolitionists didn’t just say, “We would never own slaves – or treat people as indispensable property – but another white man might see it as an economic necessity and morally might not share my views in human dignity for all. We are committed to reducing the number of slaves and also making sure slaves are treated as humanely as possible, but it is not our job to make slavery illegal. We cannot legislate another’s morality. Instead, we should determine the underlying reasons white men need slaves and work to overcome them.”

          Or something like that.
          Now I realize I’m straying from my original point – that we should have looked at the Komen policy from strictly a fiscal standpoint. But what I failed to explain in my original post is that not supporting Komen has always been about its giving money to an organization that offers abortions, something I find morally reprehensible. Yet, when Komen initially said they were going to defund PP, it seemed to me that there was something more to the anger of people who were supporters of PP. If it was truly only about breast health care (which for pro-lifers it never has been), then it didn’t make logical sense.

          That’s very similar to what so much of society is doing when it comes to abortion.

          But, sigh, I’m doing exactly what I said I didn’t have the time or energy to do and ping-ponging ideals back and forth.

          Thank you for entering this conversation. Perhaps I’ve given you something to think about. I did appreciate your perspective on the middle man because it pushed me to examine this further.

          For Life,

          • Chancita says:

            Hi Kate,
            I think you might have misunderstood a few things that I said (or maybe not!).
            re: Komen… I was trying to say that I have never heard that there was a political issue with Komen giving PP grants before.

            re: safety… I find it hard to believe that you think legal abortion is not safe(ER) than illegal abortions were (for the mother of course). There are potential complications with any surgical medical procedure including very basic ones. There is always a risk of infection, post surgical complications or just plain poor healthcare. There are hack-jobs everywhere and I’m sure that this is no exception. We all know people who have contracted staph infections from hospital stays or whose surgical procedure did not go as smoothly as expected. However, I think it is reasonable to assume that legal abortions are physically safer for the pregnant woman than abortions performed in environments that may not be sterile, etc. As for the coat hanger dispute, I’ve never spoken to someone who had an abortion with a coat hanger. In fact, the woman I know used the proper medical equipment (canulas and the like) but was not trained to use them which resulted in her having a perforated uterus.

            I appreciate the time you took to respond.

  18. Marisa says:

    You are courageous in all the ways that matter.

  19. Kris says:

    Kate – great post by Thomas Peters about the Komen situation. With two updates as things have changed even today. He’s coming out in support of Komen and believes this latest “reversal” is just a way to duck the media firestorm and defund quietly when their new grant application appears later this year.

  20. Sherry says:

    Wow. Just found your blog via Facebook and if you found such a publishing network, I can’t wait to see it!

  21. Pam says:

    I admire your bravery and willingness to take a stand — towards BlogHer especially (but also the snake as well).

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Go Kate! This took much courage and I’m so glad you wrote it! Thanks for all you do!

  23. Colleen says:

    Bravo Kate! If you do start a Catholic “BlogHer” count me in!

  24. Kate Wicker says:

    I just wanted to be completely transparent here and state that my original post mentioned a link between abortion and breast cancer. As a former medical journalist, I should not have made a claim of that nature without the knowledge that it could be backed by science or medical literature. Someone brought it to my attention that this is a myth perpetuated by anecdotal mentions or just in the blogosphere. She’s right. I checked major health sites, etc., and this link is not substantially supported by research, although I did discover Breast Cancer Institute. It was founded by an MD who does believe there is a link between the increased rates of breast cancer in young women and induced abortion. Here’s a link to the: http://www.bcpinstitute.org/home.htm I did not have time to thoroughly review the info there, but I will when I have a chance.

    The individual who sent charitably questioned the accuracy of saying there was a link between breast cancer and abortion also made the point that suggesting this to be true without any substantial evidence can be upsetting to someone who has breast cancer. That’s a valid point, too. Maybe a woman did have an abortion and regrets it and now has breast cancer. She doesn’t need to read that false claim over and over. So I stand corrected.

    Thanks to everyone for their support, and thanks, too, for those who don’t agree with me who have sent me messages that are fair.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Last year I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Chris Kahlenborn speak with a panel of doctors on breast cancer and contraception as well as breast cancer and abortion. His reasearch on the link between contraception and breast cancer was published by the Mayo Clinic, which you can read here: http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(11)60925-7/fulltext.
      He has done reasearch on the link between abortion and breast cancer, which can be found at his institute, The Polycarp Institute, found here: http://www.polycarp.org/overviewabortionbreastcancer.htm
      Dr. Kahlenborn’s Mayo Clinic article was so controversial that the new York Times refused to publish it even though they admitted it was huge news. And upon googling abortion and breast cancer together, you won’t come up with much worth reading in terms of well-reasearched material. OneMoresoul.org is a great resource for the link as well.
      Just thought I would throw some research out there for your readers who are interested:)
      Thanks again for starting the conversation!

      • Roselady says:

        This is really great. I’ve heard so much about the breast cancer/abortion link. I’m glad you were able to provide this reference. And the fact that Mayo had something to do with it, helps lend credibility.

  25. ViolinMama says:

    Thank you for speaking out. It’s so exhausting when stands are taken, and then checked and rechecked for foundation cracks. That isn’t a bad thing actually. It helps refine us for the fire, and learn something in the process and leave a topic better than we found it – a cause. But staying charitable, clear, and precise information is the way to go – and you have done so well here with that – even by making corrections!

    I’ve found when my words fall far too short to change anyone’s mind, I think how my dialoguing friends of other opinions probably think the same since I don’t change my mind for them. I hope they know though, that their facts, championed thoughts, and eloquent words DO move me to learn more, or simply grow in compassion and ease my passion a bit (because man, the mistakes I make when I get impassioned!)I also have the power of prayer to fall back on in this exhausting journey that struggles to truly define pro-life and pro-family that is definitely pro-woman. Prayer can be the best mortar for a chipped at and settling foundation. Just smooth that mortar all over the issue to clean it up and reinforce after its weighty settling. At the end of the day, prayer is all you can do to ease your spirit as well as beseeching heaven for more wisdom to meet the need for the checks and balances of a discussion. We bend, we twist, we understand, we grow. You make a difference. Small can be VERY big.

    Much love my friend!!! Miss you!

  26. Elizabeth Smith says:

    Kudos to you for speaking up! I just got turned onto your blog thru a link posted to FB for this post. Your word is being heard. Keep it up!


  27. Rhonda says:

    I’m so glad I took the time to find and read this post. My friend linked it to her FB page, but FB has blocked your writing. You must be doing something right! You go girl!!!

  28. Sarah Reinhard says:

    Kate, you have given me serious pause for thought about my own affiliation with BlogHer. From one small fry to another: good job! Stay strong! Thanks for being the leader in this.

    (and I’d love to see a Catholic BlogHer…have some ideas, in fact…)

  29. Kate, this is an absolutely amazing piece. Your reasoned and personal approach to your writing is why I always, always look forward to reading your posts. You have such a unique ability to be firm in your beliefs, while being kind and charitable to others, and this, I think, makes you all the more persuasive. And your courage inspired me to finally chime in about the whole debacle (albeit from a slightly different angle). Thank you, thank you!

  30. Sarah says:

    So sad. This entire week I too have been very upset about everything that is going on. I am very disappointed in BlogHer and am glad that you are not afraid to speak out for the truth.

  31. kimberlee says:

    Bravo, three cheers, applause, and hugs to you! Oh how the babies need more mama bears!

  32. Sarah says:

    Great post. I’d love to join a Christian (after all pro-life is not just a Catholic idea but it affects all Christians) review/ad network as well. I’ve had some similar reservations about another group who advocates birth control and vaccines.

  33. Jeannine says:

    Well done, Kate. Thank you for your courageous example.

  34. jennyann1126 says:

    GOOD FOR YOU!! Your support and actions will not go unnoticed. May God bless you and your family!

  35. Kate Wicker says:

    I just wanted to drop a quick note to say that I received the most gracious note from a BlogHer manager in response to this post. Her words have given me more food for thought than I can manage to swallow right now (my mom just came out of surgery; it’s been a long day).

    I mentioned to Jennifer Fulwiler that we need her voice in the BlogHer Network, and we do. We need pro-life voices. The manager stressed this: that my voice is an important one, which made me start to think about how I’m frequently probably preaching to the choir around here. A big chunk of my readers are already pro-life women who share many of my views. Yet, the fact that this blog is a part of the BlogHer Network might draw others here who probably never would have clicked on my site. I’d love to go up against the establishment, but how can I do that right now? I’ve spent way too much time online the past few days dealing with all of this. It’s not fair to my family. So where does that leave me? Where does that leave other pro-life bloggers who want to help those little, innocent voices of unborn babies be heard? How do I best serve Him?

    I don’t want to flip-flop like a fickle politician, but I have lots to think about. I welcome any of your thoughts as well.

    God bless!

    • MamabearJD says:

      I’m a relatively new reader here but not new to the Catholic mom blog community. I think you make an excellent point about staying in a “mainstream” network (for lack of a better word) and your potential audience here at BlogHer. The Komen saga has been one that I have been Following closely. The discussion here has been the most civil one that I have seen, and I can’t help but thnk that you are indeed serving a valuable purpose. I too have small children (4) and understand how hard it must be to have answered all of these comments in such a thoughtful and wonderful manner. I include you in my prayers this evening and thank you for being a voice for the innocent. I do wish the initial BlogHer position would get a bit of press.

  36. Roselady says:

    Obviously, I’ve been following all the comments here on this post. And when Jennifer made those comments the other day, I thought either staying or leaving BlogHer could be validated. Personally, I think it always benefits to share our message with those that don’t share our faith. My blog is not Catholic per se, but it is written with my Catholic perspective. My blog simply wouldn’t work from a strictly Catholic point of view. So, while a Catholic BlogHer is a great idea, I think blogging on BlogHer has its advantages.

  37. Mary says:

    As a pro-choice, newly reverted Catholic (who, thank heavens, has never had to make that choice, but who does contracept) your blog (found through BlogHer) has made me think twice. It hasn’t changed my mind, but it has made me think twice.

    • Kate Wicker says:

      Thank you, Mary. Do let me know if I (or one of my readers) can answer any of your questions. Welcome back to the Catholic Church! Blessings.

      • Mary says:

        Thanks, Kate! I think your decision to be peaceful and wait for your decision is the right one. That being said, I wouldn’t fault you if you left or if you stayed – only God and you (eventually) know what is right for you and your family.

  38. Gabriela says:

    You can check out http://www.abortionbreastcancer.com for the Coalition on Abortion/breast cancer. This organization cites various studies and evidence that there is indeed a link, although of course it’s not a 100% correlation. But it may be worth something….food for thought if nothing else.

  39. Kate Wicker says:

    For those of you who have been following this conversation as well as my discernment process, I did decide to ultimately leave the BlogHer Publishing Network. The representative from BlogHer with whom I’d been in communication with could not have been more gracious and supportive. I do feel at peace with my decision, although it wasn’t an easy one to make.

    At any rate, thanks to all of you for your support! Blessings.


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