Friday, February 03, 2012

Dear Media Relations Person, Susan G. Komen Foundation -

I'm sure you're getting a metric ton of these e-mails and letters, and wading through them is both frustrating and overwhelming.  I know the feeling - I have probably the same amount of medical bills and test results and doctor's notes to wade through myself. Because I live with illness, I live with paperwork.  And because it's your job, so do you.  I doubt you were expecting all of this, however - all these critical, disappointed, stinging responses to your new policy of cutting funding for Planned Parenthood

Here's the thing - I am sure that you started at this job because you wanted to help people with cancer: can't think of any other earthly reason why else you'd be working for a Foundation (usually) known for it's dedication to eradicating, educating about, and researching into the causes of breast cancer.  I just did a little research into the Foundation, which I'd heard of, of course, but knew very little about - I'm sorry to hear of Ms. Komen's personal battle with breast cancer, and touched by the fact that her loss led to the the salvation of many other women: it's a great tribute to her, and for her sister to have created the Foundation in her name is truly inspiring. 

 I am sure, given those circumstances, and all that you all have done in the past 30 years to further the cause, that all of this negative attention is probably pretty disheartening, and I'm sorry for that.

But what's not inspiring is bigotry, ignorance or discrimination.  And what's also disheartening is your organization's new policy, which is both antithetical to your stated goals of "to eradicate breast cancer by advancing research, screening, care and education," but also short sighted and, frankly, appalling. 

I personally, (and every woman I have spoken to on the subject, as well as those who are leaving messages on your Facebook page and sending e-mails and writing blog posts) fail to see how defunding cancer screenings - and let's be clear, that is ALL you are defunding, cancer screenings and treatments (17% of Planned Parenthood's services) - for (mostly) lower-income women will help you to attain your "vision of a world without breast cancer."  That's not logical, it's not honest, and it sullies the good work you have done (or will continue to do). 

Politics, although very few seem to recognize this, has no place in medicine.  There is nothing 'pro-life' about cutting off the ONLY route many women/men will have to prevent, treat, or cure their breast cancer.  It is hypocritical of your Foundation to hide behind 'policy changes' and obscure new rules about 'organizations under investigation', when your own executives are the ones who are leading the charge for those investigations, and whose only motivation is their own political agenda. 

An organization such as yours, which claims to be "For the Cure", which has done so much in pursuit of that cure should not be discriminating against women who need your help.  For any reason.  You should be above the political maneuverings on a divisive issue, when it has absolutely nothing to do with what you are fighting for.

I'm not saying your executives should support Planned Parenthood if they are against some of the things that go on there, but your Foundation?  Whose only mission is to 'eradicate' this illness?  Should continue to support the people on the front lines - the women and men who need screening and treatment and care, the doctors and nurses who provide that care, the technicians and specialists who evaluate the needs of the patients - no matter where they are practicing.  This new policy, is egregious and should be corrected IMMEDIATELY. 

I mentioned my own illness in the beginning of this letter, and while it isn't breast cancer, without the help of local clinics, many funded through private foundations and organizations like your own, my life would be very different right now.  I would not - do not - have the resources to battle it on my own, and would have no way or receiving them without help.  I cannot condone or understand an organization that is supposed to be dedicated to such a noble goal - eliminating breast cancer, The End. - making such an ill-conceived and deadly decision.  Because make no mistake, for women like me, who depend on places like Planned Parenthood for their care, taking away those sort of places, is taking away our only chances of survival. 

I don't send my money or donate my time to organizations that think it's ok to discriminate against whole segments of the population, or who put politics before their own goals and the needs of the people they're supposed to be meeting.  That is what you are doing with this new decision.  I hope that you will reconsider your policy shift, and make this right.  Until that change is made, please know that you will not be getting my support, nor, I suspect, the support of many others.


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