On Friday, February 3rd, I was waiting for the economic update. The jobs picture is a key indicator (even though it is considered a lagging indicator) of economic recovery, and I was looking to see if there were tangible signs that a real and perhaps more robust recovery was underway. But even though I was tuned into the economy, my greatest attention was focused on the decision by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation decision to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood.
There could not have been a worse decision. It was wrong on all levels. First why would an organization focused on a cure for breast cancer cut off funding to a highly regarded organization’s breast screening program? In a nation where we know there is a significant divide between pro-choice and pro-life advocates, why would an organization committed to the cure interject politics into our war against cancer? Did Susan Komen’s hiring of a known pro-life person (and recent anti-abortion candidate for Georgia’s governor) translate into an intolerant policy toward those with a different political ideology but at least as strong a commitment to eradicating breast cancer?
I greatly admire how quickly New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg stepped forward to pledge a matching donation to Planned Parenthood of up to $250,000. The total that would be raised of up to $500,000 would almost make up for the reduction from Susan Komen.
Our economy is showing signs of life. There were 243,000 new jobs in January and the unemployment rate has dipped from 8.5% to 8.3%. Not terrific but nevertheless a world better than the 9.1% unemployment rate we had in August. And the stock market has also rallied with the DJIA now resting comfortably above the 12,000 level.
There are great divides in our country. Our recovery is proceeding but almost certainly, with political cooperation, it would proceed faster. On the issue of abortion, the differences are equally great but can’t we agree that women have a right to choice when the decision involves their own body? Isn’t there still room in our society for people agreeing to disagree? And when it comes to cancer research and cancer care, how dare any organization play politics?
February 3rd was a good day. First the economic news and later in the day Susan Komen reversed their position and announced that funding would be restored to Planned Parenthood. If our country is to continue to succeed and if our efforts regarding breast cancer are also to succeed, we need to be both more united and more respectful of individual differences.