Politicians beware! The uproar prompted by the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to cut funds to Planned Parenthood is a glimmer of the power of women who don’t want to see their health issues – their freedom of choice issues – abrogated by the politics of abortion.
Some of us, like myself, were not allowed to speak up on this issue in the past because of our jobs. As a newspaper editor, I had to sign an ethics agreement each year, promising that I would not embarrass the paper by taking a public stance on an issue which I might cover in my job.
It’s a good policy, journalistically, and I was careful to stay clear of stories where I had a strong emotional involvement.
But now, in my unretirement, I can tirelessly speak out. And quote others who speak out.
Cece Citron, an academic counselor at the University of Pennsylvania who herself has marched in the grueling, but exhilarating three-day, 60-mile walk for breast cancer, is angry. “I am absolutely appalled about Susan B. Komen and my feeling about it is that they’re hurting young women and low income women. …If I were registered now [for the three day walk] I’d pull out. I’d rather have my efforts and fundraising go to Planned Parenthood. I am terribly appalled.”
I’ve witnessed women’s despair in the face of pregnancy. In college at a time when abortion was illegal, I saw the agonizing routes young women took to find secret doctors in distant or disgusting places. Then, as a Fulbright scholar in Santiago, Chile, I volunteered in a low-income clinic where a pioneering physician, Dr. Jaime Zipper, was designing inexpensive IUDs to allow women to plan their families.
I doubt the Komen organization that worked so hard for so many years to build its reputation and raise millions to fund its mission to cure breast cancer will quickly, if ever, rebound from this decision. Even though it has already backpedaled and rescinded its decision. Which is tragic. Because either way, it is women who are hurt.
But perhaps some good will come of it. The uproar “lets people know the good work that Planned Parenthood does beyond abortion," said David Broida, whose late wife,
Susan Broida was a much loved advocate of sex education and family planning.
As Susan Broida once said, ‘It’s the silence that is the problem. The silence is deadly.”