Politics Wednesday 5

n 1984 my mother got the news no woman wants to learn. She had breast cancer, the first woman in generations of my family to have the disease. Being the person I am, I set out to research the subject as much as I could since her diagnosis had a distinct effect on my future.

What I discovered was that medical research funds from the public sector for breast cancer research were minimal at best–lung cancer and heart disease got the brunt of those meagre dollars. Soon, however, there was an organization, which raised money privately for breast cancer research–the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Its “Race for the Cure” events across the country raised millions.

When Linda Daschle became the FAA’s first female assistant administrator, she created a team of FAA women to run/walk in the annual Washington, DC, Race for the Cure. I was an eager participant. Well aware of my ambivalent relationship with my mother–who died six weeks after being diagnosed–I donned my race number and a placard with her name on it–I was racing in her memory. It was something I could do for her and not face her criticism.

Over the years, then, I donated, generously, to the Susan G. Komen Foundation and participated in several, additional Races for the Cure.

No more. Susan G. Komen Foundation announced this week its grants to Planned Parenthood to enable that organization to screen poor women for breast cancer for free were cut off. Their excuse? Right-wing nut-job pressure because Planned Parenthood does abortions. Of course, they didn’t say that–the announcement was couched in PR-speak.

Susan G. Komen Foundation has a policy not to partner with organizations “under investigation.” That’s a recent change, by the way. Republican Congressman Jeff Stearns from Florida has initiated a Congressional investigation to determine if Planned Parenthood used public funds for abortions, which is prohibited by law. Planned Parenthood’s accounting shows that’s not the case, but the investigation proceeds–slowly.

But the truth is obvious–right-wing nut-jobs are so concerned about controlling women’s bodies and so dispassionate they will force an organization that did so much good to take an action that puts women in jeopardy. RWNJ’s don’t care about women; they especially don’t care about poor women. If you didn’t know that before, know it now.

Planned Parenthood’s focus has always been pregnancy prevention, family planning, and health screening for women who can’t afford to go to a doctor. Performing abortions has always been a small, a very small, portion of their services. No matter to the RWNJ’s–one abortion is one too many for them, so they work to shut down an organization poor women depend on for health services beyond birth control and family planning.

I’ve written to Susan G. Komen Foundation directly and explained exactly why they’ll no longer be getting any money or any support from me. I’ve signed an on-line petition denouncing the Foundation’s ill-considered decision. They’ve put money from rightwing organizations before the health of women. That’s unconscionable.

Credo Action has the on-line petition I signed. I’m sure there’ll be others. Make sure the Susan G. Komen Foundation gets the message they made a bad choice. Contact Rep. Jeff Stearns and explain the concept of “unintended consequences” to him.

Not Intended to be Factual Statements

Imagine what life would be like if, every time we say something stupid, we could just shrug and say, “I didn’t intend that to be a factual statement.” Then, everyone who heard the stupidity would just smile and say, “Sure, no problem. Of course you didn’t intend that to be a factual statement.”

That begs the question, what is a non-factual statement? Why, I think everyone from my grandmother to my old English teacher to a priest or two I had respect for would say, “It’s a lie.”

Those of us on the left–excuse me, we liberals–have been the only ones up in arms about Sen. John Kyl’s  (R.-AZ) pontificating on the floor of the Senate about how 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions. Once Planned Parenthood pointed out to the media that the percentage was more like three, Kyl’s spokesperson indicated to the media that Kyl hadn’t intended that to be a “factual statement.”

Oh, I see. Even if you accept that politicians lie–and they do–that admission by Kyl’s spokesperson, the glibness of it, is disgusting. Set aside the disrespect against an organization which has done more for women’s health than the nail on John Kyl’s pinky. I knew and know women–myself included before I joined up with Uncle Sam and got health insurance–who went to Planned Parenthood for medical examinations and tests exclusive to women. I know women who went to Planned Parenthood to be diagnosed and treated for sexually transmitted diseases because if they went to their hometown doctors it would be too embarrassing. And yes, I know a few women who went to Planned Parenthood to get a referral for an abortion because that was the only way they could afford it.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t push abortion, but if a woman asks for one, Planned Parenthood makes no judgements but does make certain she gets a safe procedure. And everything else you go to Planned Parenthood for–routine medical screenings and cancer tests–you get treated like a human being, a person, not just a group health plan number.

Kyl was pontificating to make a political point and to advance his and the Republicans’ social agenda. (Mr. Boehner, where are those jobs y’all ran on and promised?) But, apparently, he also has sway with the Congressional Record. When the edition came out reflecting the Senate proceedings on the day Mr. Kyl made his unintended factual statement, the transcript didn’t reflect the 90% figure. The entire statement was edited to make it almost innocuous. Well, thank goodness for C-SPAN. We can still view the video, unless Kyl somehow manages a judicious edit of that, too.

So, what’s my long-winded point?

Politicians lie, but lately Republican politicians and potential Republican Presidential candidates have dropped some whoppers on us. We shouldn’t shrug this off as more of the same. We should be worried.

I could say, “I didn’t intend any of the above to be a factual statement,” but that would be a lie.

P.S. Something I thought I’d never say–way to go, Gov. Jan Brewer. She of the draconian and unconstitutional immigration bill showed amazing good sense in vetoing Arizona’s birther legislation. Will wonders never cease?
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And this post’s homage to National Poetry Month acknowledges the other half of my heritage. Last post I printed a Seamus Heaney poem (and managed, with my bad typing to misspell his last name). Here then, enjoy Robert Burns’ “Lament for Culloden.”

The lovely lass o’ Inverness,
    Nae joy nor pleasure can she see;
For e’en and morn, she cries, “Alas!”
    And aye the saut tear blin’s her e’e:
“Drumossie moor, Drumossie day,
    A waefu’ day it was to me!
For there I lost my father dear,
    My father dear and brethren three.


“Their winding-sheet the bluidy clay,
    Their graves are growing green to see;
And by them lies the dearest lad
    That ever blest a woman’s e’e!
Now wae to thee, thou cruel lord,
    A bluidy man I trow thou be;
For monie a heart thou hast made sair,
    That ne’er did wrang to thine or thee.”