Politics have no place in women's health care

When the Komen Foundation announced that it was withdrawing breast-cancer screening grants from Planned Parenthood, allegedly because the organization performs abortions, it launched a nationwide media frenzy that eventually ended with a reversal of that decision.

Although I'm happy that Planned Parenthood will continue to receive funding for important life-saving services, it is ludicrous to me that the abortion debate was tied to breast cancer prevention in the first place.

When Komen initially made the announcement, the foundation received support from pro-life groups and criticism from pro-choice groups. When the reversal was announced, the pro-lifers cried foul and the pro-choice folks breathed a sigh of relief.  But regardless of where you stand on abortion, isn't everyone anti-breast cancer? Don't we all strive for more access to health care and particularly cancer screening? 

This is the second time in recent months that women's health has been politicized. The announcement that insurance companies will now be required to fully cover women's birth control also caused uproar despite the fact no one has protested insurance coverage of Viagra, which has been going on for years.

In light of the most recent debate, it is important to keep in mind that Komen's support of Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with abortion funding. Komen grants go specifically to breast cancer screening, care and referrals.

Let's take a minute to review the purpose of Planned Parenthood. It's an organization that provides women's health care to those who might otherwise not have access.

This includes annual exams, pap smears, screening for sexually transmitted diseases, clinical breast exams and family planning. And yes, Planned Parenthood also provides abortion services, which have been legal in this country since 1973.

Cancer doesn't discriminate between men or women, rich or poor, white or black. It affects people of all races, religions, ethnicities and political persuasions. Let us unite to fight disease. When it comes to providing health care, leave politics out of it.

Robyn Carlisle, MSN, CNM, WHNP, works as a full-scope midwife at University Doctors and Kennedy University Hospital in Sewell, N.J.

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