Yesterday, I was sitting in my living room cursing out loud as I was reading a New York Times Op-Ed about women who get fired from their jobs due to being pregnant. In her article, “Pregnant and Pushed out of a Job”, lawyer Dina Banks states that though federal and state laws ban discrimination against pregnant women in the work place, employers are however not obligated to accommodate pregnant workers if they, for example, require extra bathroom breaks, time off for medical checks, etc. Because of this, women are put on unpaid leaves or even fired on daily basis – due to no other reason than them being pregnant.
Today, as I opened my laptop and glanced through the regular social networking sites, it didn’t take long to figure out what today’s depressing news topic was. Facebook, Twitter and front pages of most media sites were filled with news about Susan G. Komen for Cure breast cancer charity pulling its funding to Planned Parenthood for preventative breast exams. According to Komen,the charity could not continue funding Planned Parenthood because Komen’s new guidelines that bar it from funding organizations under congressional investigation.
I say – bull crap. If you are going to pull a cowardly and shameful move like that, then at least be honest about the reasons behind this decision.
Does anyone else see several appalling contradictions between these stories? While on the other hand charities, organizations, individuals and certain political groups attack abortion clinics and other service providers such as Planned Parenthood, which not only provide abortion services but other life-saving treatments – such as the breast cancer screenings for which Komen pulled its funding – women who are pregnant and want to have a child are faced with a choice between pregnancy and a job. So, essentially, damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
For a charity such as Komen to stop funding a service provider that has been offering affordable and life saving breast cancer screenings to tens of thousands of women is not only hypocritical, but absolutely unacceptable. Komen claims to be the number one champion in the fight against breast cancer, but pulling their funding for preventative breast cancer screenings provided by Planned Parenthood is an outright slap across the face of all those women who use these services every day. It seems that for Komen, politics come before cure.
Then there is the question of abortion – the elephant in the room, the real issue behind Komen’s decision. Pro-life groups have praised Komen for its decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood. As America approaches election time, the topic of pro-choice vs. pro-life becomes more and more hot and debated. But who would start the pro-common-sense movement? Women get pregnant – both accidentally and on purpose – and most of those women choose to go through with the pregnancy. However, some choose the other option – and until this country is willing to make substantial improvements in the current support and benefits given to expecting and new mothers, no one – NO ONE – gets to judge women who decide to have an abortion. What if You got pregnant and were given a choice between going through with the pregnancy, or keeping your job? You get to do one – but not both, because accommodating for your pregnancy would place unnecessary harm and strain on your employer. After all – employers can only allow so many bathroom breaks. What if Your girlfriend, fiance or wife got pregnant, you nor her had insurance, you are making due on minimum income, and she is now faced with the daunting $10-$20K hospital bill for delivering that baby 9 months from now? What if Your daughter was raped and got pregnant as a result. Would you expect her to go through with that pregnancy? Would you support her raising that baby?In stead of taking a stance against Planned Parenthood, Komen could advocate for more comprehensive maternal benefits and support so that more women could actually afford to have a child. Komen could lobby for legislation that would protect the jobs of women during pregnancy, and after giving birth. Komen could put pressure on its partners to institute maternal support and benefit programs, even if the law doesn’t force employers to do so. In stead, the Foundation decided to make a decision purely based on politics, showing grave disregard for the well-being of women all over this country. Komen for the cure, huh?
There is a war on women in this country, on many levels – and sadly, it is often women who are waging that war against each other. There have been loud objections to Komen’s decision, and individual donations have in the past day almost made up for the amount of money Planned Parenthood lost as Komen pulled its funding. This is wonderful, and it shows that not all hope is lost. There is a lot more to be done, however, before women in this country receive the care and treatment they need and deserve, whether regarding breast cancer or pregnancy – and we, as women and girls, as sisters, daughters, mothers and grandmothers, need to be in the forefront fighting for these rights. If we don’t – who will? Obviously, not Komen Foundation.