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5 Important Lessons from the Komen/Planned Parenthood Fiasco (Don't Mess With Women's Health)

The big win here is that an anti-choice power play failed in the court of public opinion.

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3. People will now be more suspicious of charities -- and that's a good thing.

Some people have raised concerns that the entire charitable sector could see a dip in donations because Komen screwed up so badly, and I very much hope that doesn't happen. It goes without saying that there are many wonderful charities in this world, including plenty that support breast cancer research.

Whatever happens to donation levels, it's safe to say that many people will be more suspicious of charities from now on. Slapping a colored ribbon on a bumpersticker will not be enough to earn people's trust anymore. And that is a good thing, because, as the Komen kerfuffle has shown us, not all charities are worthy of our trust.

As Komen's dirty laundry was aired this week, many people learned what the term " pinkwashing" means ("a company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease"). People learned that the money they donate does more good at some charities than at others, that charity executives can have dubious corporate ties and political agendas, and that some charities can bully smaller organizations with fewer resources.

People have also learned about the often questionable practice of "cause marketing," of which Komen is a big proponent, putting its pink ribbon on everything from buckets of fried chicken to handguns to beer koozies. And they now know that Komen's executives will flat-out lie to Komen's supporters and everyone else, as they proved when they fibbed about why they were cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, not once but twice.

They say that sunshine is the best disinfectant. Hopefully now that we've shone the light on Komen's iffy practices, the public will demand more from the charities to which they donate.

4. There is hope for humanity, because people really do care about the poor.

Another thing we learned this week is that, thank goodness, a lot of Americans do not agree with Mitt Romney in that they do care about the poor. An attack on Planned Parenthood is an attack on poor women. As RH Reality Check's Jodi Jacobson writes:

A large share of the clients served at Planned Parenthood clinics are low-income African-American and Latina women. The National Cancer Institute identifies lack of access to early and effective screening for breast cancer (and hence lack of early treatment) as a primary reason that African-American and Latina women die of breast cancer at higher rates than the general population.

This week we saw the general population, many of whom are slipping into poverty at alarming rates, stand up against a decision that would have disproportionately affected low-income women.

5. The war to dehumanize women is failing. 

This is the big one: the effort of anti-choicers to brand women as less than human is failing. Again, Amanda Marcotte:

The debate over healthcare is basically about this ultimate fight over whether or not women are people. Conservatives see women as objects. Sex and reproduction the way the objects are used, and like with any other property, how and who uses it is the whole point. That's why abstinence-only classes compare sexually active women to lollipops that have been opened and licked, or toothbrushes that someone else has used....

[This] fight was over who basically owns the mainstream: anti-feminists or feminists, people who think of women as expensive sex toys/gestation machines or people who think of women as people? That's why everyone was so upset. And that's why the feminist win was so meaningful.

 
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