Women’s health care shouldn’t be at the mercy of Komen or Bloomberg

As Samhita mentioned yesterday, in response to the Komen fiasco, Mayor Bloomberg is matching donations to Planned Parenthood up to $250,000. While he’s probably contributing the biggest chunk of change, Bloomberg is hardly the only supporter rallying to Planned Parenthood’s aid. Just 24 hours after Komen announced they were pulling their funding, Planned Parenthood had raised nearly enough to offset the loss.

That’s wonderful. Bloomberg is kind of the worst on some issues, but he has been a strong and consistent defender of reproductive rights. I’m thrilled he put some of his money where his mouth is in this case. And it’s also been truly heartening to see how quickly and passionately regular folks have mobilized to defend Planned Parenthood as its funding has been threatened again and again over the past couple years. There is a real sense that, as one supporter writes, “When you go after Planned Parenthood and the people they serve, you go after ME.”

But I cannot tell you how angry I am that it comes to this. That it always comes to this. Planned Parenthood does incredibly valuable work, but the fact that its services are so indispensable for thousands of Americans is itself evidence of this country’s profound failure. Planned Parenthood, and other women’s health clinics, fill a health care gap that simply shouldn’t exist. This country should be able to ensure that all women can get cancer screenings and birth control and, yes, abortions–and that their primary source for such care isn’t a constantly embattled organization like Planned Parenthood. Basic women’s health care shouldn’t be subject to politics or at the mercy of foundation funding or reliant on the generosity of a billionaire plutocrat.

Last year, before Koman decided not to fund them anymore because they’re under investigation–I mean, because they don’t provide mammograms directly–I mean, let’s be real, because of the abortions–the foundation seemed to understand quite well the gap that Planned Parenthood fills:

In dozens of communities, in some areas, the only place that poor, uninsured or under-insured women can receive these services are through programs run by Planned Parenthood…These facilities serve rural women, poor women, Native American women, women of color, and the un- and under-insured…As long as there is a need for health care for these women, Komen Affiliates will continue to fund the facilities that meet that need.

Komen may have split, but the need remains. Thanks to the supporters who have stepped up, it will be met this year. But what about the next year and the one after that?

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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