The war against women's rights in America has taken a nasty turn in the past year, especially since the election of 2010 when the Republicans made such inroads into state governments as well as the House of Representatives. They took that as a mandate, as confirmation that the nation was behind them in their attempts to put women in their place, which in their worldview is at home, homeschooling the children.
The strong-arm tactics of these people who bill themselves as "small government conservatives" and their attempts to insert themselves between women and their doctors has been an especially troubling aspect of this war. They have attempted - and succeeded in all too many instances - to roll back access to women's preventive health care in virtually every state where Republicans now hold power in the government. From access to abortion to access to contraceptives, they have made it their business to stick their long noses into women's business everywhere.
Even so, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation story about defunding Planned Parenthood broke early last week, it was a bit of a shock. Like most people. I had assumed that foundation was non-partisan and was interested only in health issues and saving women from breast cancer. More fool I! It turns out that the foundation is run by right-wing ideologues who seem to be more interested in pushing the Republican agenda against women than in actually saving women's lives.
After the story broke, the storm broke. Planned Parenthood backers, like myself, reacted with fury and many of us did what we could to help make up the shortfall caused by the withdrawal of Komen grants. What we could do individually was little enough, but when you multiply that little by thousands of individuals and throw in a couple of $250,000 gifts from some rich people, you find that you really can make a difference. Most importantly, you find that speaking out through letters or petitions or tweets or however you can DOES add up and, in the end, you CAN change things.
In the end, Komen could not withstand the firestorm they had unleashed and they caved. But they were unable to cave gracefully. Their handling of the reversal of their decision was just as hamhanded as the original announcement and it left no doubt that they had originally decided to cut off funds from Planned Parenthood for nothing more than political reasons. All the other arms of the Republican Party establishment were beating up on the organization so they thought it would be safe to join in. It proved to be one step too far in the war against women in America.
The lesson to be learned, I think, is simple. Never underestimate the power of a group of really angry women. It's a lesson that I hope we can remember and apply to other issues of importance to us, for I can assure you, the war against us will continue.
UPDATE: More fallout and another resignation at Komen in the wake of the debacle.