Friday, February 3, 2012

Of Breasts and Bravery

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 Even though it has already backpedaled and rescinded its decision.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.”


Lisa Broida Bailey said...

Dotty - this is Susan Broida's daughter, Lisa. Thank you for keeping my mom's legacy alive and sharing her thoughts on this subject.

David said...

THX from all of us - d.

Wendy Lee said...

Dotty, I am so happy that you posted this column. Furthermore, one of the not-so-hidden blessings of your unRetirement from your job is that you can now publicly speak out and it is refreshing and necessary to hear your voice,especially during an important election cycle.
I can't remember who said it but someone did: "Activism is the price one pays for living on this planet". What a whacky and wonderful world when a person can exercise an effective form of activism by clicking on a few online petitions and letters pre-written by groups of her choice.
I myself signed two which went directly to the Susan G. Komen foundation. There is stuff to criticize about the foundation and that was prior to this debacle-turned-success. Their greedy attempts to "own" the words "for the cure" and the color pink, to say nothing of partnering with Kentucky Fried Chicken - nobody's idea of a healthy nutritional option....well, they haven't gotten my money for years. But this is a great consciousness-raising opportunity for the people who think that their voices do not matter. Another quote "What we cannot do alone, we can surely do together"...and it has proven to be true.
Please check out because they have a breast cancer site as part of it and for every click that you do (for free) it adds up to free mammograms for underserved women. It takes a few seconds and does some good.
Thanks again for addressing this really important and current topic in your own true voice which can now ring out clearly without violating any ethics agreements! I, for one, am grateful!

Wendy Lee said...

(One more thing, as a worthy alternative to donating to the Komen Fdn) I'd like everyone to know about a group from PA called Living Beyond Breast Cancer. I have been donating there every since my sister was diagnosed with and treated successfully for breast cancer. It has a special mission to help minority and underserved woemn, which is laudable.You can check them out on Thanks