Thursday, February 02, 2012

Komen chameleon

I'd noticed the general uproar over the Susan G. Komen foundation - those pink-ribbon people, yes, them - and their yanking funding from Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer screening. Jeffrey Goldberg has a good report: the supposedly neutral rule is to exclude any organization under gov't investigation (which, with a GOP House, will always include Planned Parenthood).
But three sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut-off Planned Parenthood. (Komen gives out grants to roughly 2,000 organizations, and the new "no-investigations" rule applies to only one so far.) The decision to create a rule that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, according to these sources, was driven by the organization's new senior vice-president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is "pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood." (The Komen grants to Planned Parenthood did not pay for abortion or contraception services, only cancer detection, according to all parties involved.) I've tried to reach Handel for comment, and will update this post if I speak with her.
Komen's "top public health official, Mollie Williams," resigned over the decision. Good for her.

(Sorry for the post headline, but I woke up with that damn song stuck in my head; thankfully I've forgotten any dreams which may have been the cause.)

... Goldberg's co-blogger, the notoriously stupid Megan McArdle, says the Komen decision is no big deal:
Though I'm pro-choice, I don't share the outrage that was roiling my Twitter feed this morning. It is, as Josh Barro noted, absurd to pretend that abortion is somehow incidental to Planned Parenthood's services, and since money is fungible, giving them money is probably helping to fund abortion provision.
Never mind the possibility that, on McArdle's own theory of PP's central mission, cutting funds for their cancer screenings would likely make them cease to offer cancer screenings. And then, the inane conclusion:
Unfortunately, while they easily could have declined to fund PP without much backlash, de-funding them sends an extremely explicit message that is probably going to cost them significant public support. Which is a pity, because early detection and treatment of breast cancer is a mission that we should all be able to agree on.
Uh, no, evidently not.

McArdle is the main reason that, despite reading some of its blogs, I will not subscribe to the Atlantic.

... Aaaand Komen folds. For now. I would guess PP will be in for disappointment if/when it reapplies for a new grant.


  1. All I can say is that Roe v. Wade is the worst court decision since Dred Scott. If the states had been allowed to regulate this, abortion would be more available today than it currently is, and it certainly wouldn't be the lightning rod causing turmoil in virtually everything.

  2. "If the states had been allowed to regulate this, abortion would be more available today than it currently is"

    That is an interesting theory, which I do not however quite follow.

    I think Roe would've rested better on an alternative basis, but given the obvious lack of any consensus on abortion in our society, I cannot accept that the state can make such a metaphysical choice for a pregnant woman.

    Sincere opponents of abortion would do best to promote low-cost, high-quality contraception and child care. But there are not many sincere opponents of abortion, whereas there are quite a lot of people who get off on controlling women.

  3. I have talked with a person who talks to teen Moms to try to get them to allow their babies to be adopted. She said most of them refuse to condsider adoption saying If I had not wanted to keep my baby I would have rather had an abortion than to give up the child after birth. This fact if true is surprising to me.JL

  4. That *is* strange. Maybe once the baby's come to term and born, the mom regards it as her child and can't bear to think of giving it away.

    I am not crazy about abortion personally, but I can't imagine telling a pregnant woman that my opinion should legally debar her from having an abortion.

  5. I agree. I think the problem is the people on the extreme sides of the issue. The ones who on one side think there should be no abortions at all vs. the ones who think that unlimited abortions at any time for any reason is a good thing. Then there are those politicans who just use the issue to divide and conquer. They are the lowest of the low.JL

  6. Anderson,

    I want to expand on my comment a little. Prior to Roe, there just was not the moral groundswell against abortion. It had gone from illegal in every state to legal in something like 15 in the space of 15 years. The evangelical movement in recent years has become somewhat "liberal" on racial issues, but that wasn't the case in 1973. And so you had all these people who were mad about Supreme Court overreach on busing and integration, mad about all the criminal rights rulings, and then comes Roe. The state's rights crowd had an issue on which they could claim the moral high ground.

    I'd love to know how many illegal abortions were performed in Mississippi from 1950 to 1973. I suspect it was quite a few. But after Roe, no doctor wanted to be known as an abortionist. I think today the only place in Mississippi to get an abortion is in Hattiesburg, but I could be wrong.

    I just believe that had the court stayed out of it, more and more states would have allowed first-trimester abortions. Not all, but it never would have been this terrible divisive issue that it is today. And I'm sorry, but you do really have to strain to find a constitutional right to an abortion where a woman has engaged in consensual intercourse. As for partial-birth abortion on demand -- sorry. (BUT, Denying abortion to a rape victim or person not of age of consent is a violation of the 13th Amendment, in my view).