At 2:30 a.m. this morning, Washington's senior Senator and inexhaustible women's health advocate Patty Murray boarded a D.C. plane bound for Seattle, intent on pressing her home court advantage to once again call on the Susan G. Komen Foundation to restore funding for cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood.
But by the time her plane touched down in Seattle, Murray had won her battle. "I found out about Komen's decision to continue funding Planned Parenthood as I stepped off the plane," she explained this morning while standing in front of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest's (PPGN) E. Madison Street headquarters. So instead of censure, her scheduled presser became a well-deserved victory celebration.
"I want to congratulate Susan G. Komen on reversing their decision today," Murray told the crowd of Planned Parenthood volunteers, supporters, and staff. "This is a huge win for men and women... I have stood and will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with so many men and women across the country, with on voice, to fight to ensure that women have vital screenings for breast health."
Planned Parenthood's victory here is twofold: Since Komen's decision to stop breast cancer screenings through Planned Parenthood went public on Tuesday evening, PPGN has raised $50,000 to continue funding breast cancer screenings and education programs, while nationally, Planned Parenthood has raised a staggering $3 million earmarked for breast health. Meanwhile, Komen's reputation has taken a hit and conservative Republicans—who have long attempted to defund and discredit Planned Parenthood—have learned that a nation of men and women stand behind them with their wallets open.
Thanks to the public's generous donations, the 710,000 breast screenings Planned Parenthood conducts annually will continue uninterrupted, as will the 1,000 breast screenings that PPGN offered last year using local Komen funds. "We chose to serve Native American women in Cle Elum Clallum County and refugee women in Boise using Komen grants and we're going to remain focused on that as our top priority," said PPGN's CEO Chris Charbonneau, ensuring that women like 29-year-old Sharona Lindgren will have access to the services they desperately need.
"I didn’t have health insurance after my daughter was born," says Lindgren, "so I turned to my Eastern Washington Planned Parenthood for my yearly health exam."
In early 2009, a Planned Parenthood doctor detected a small lump in Lindgren's breast. "I was afraid. My great-grandmother died of breast cancer, my grandmother had pre-cancerous breast cells, and my great-aunt also died from breast cancer." Lindgren was not only worried about her health but her daughter's future. Fortunately, her Planned Parenthood doc directed her to a cancer center with free mammograms and ultrasounds. "They discovered that the lump was only a cyst. But without planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t have had access to the preventative care I needed to get that diagnosis."
Oddly enough, no representatives from Komen for the Cure Puget Sound were present at today's press conference. But while some have doubted the sincerity of Komen's mea culpa—they point out that Komen still hasn't pledged to fund Planned Parenthood grants, and could just be pink-bellied weasels waiting for this liberal shit storm to pass—both Murray and Charbonneau insisted today that they were taking Komen's apology "at face value."
"I believe that it’s a real offer—that if we put in for grants it will be taken and considered along with everything else," Charbonneau said, "Because we agree that at the end of the day, we need as much money or more to go into breast cancer research."
"I, today, congratulate them," Murray reiterated. "But I also tell them and every other organization that we will remain vigilant that politics does not come into their decisions... we cannot assume our fight’s over because there are those on the other side who will use everything they have to stop funding for Planned Parenthood."