Planned Parenthood's Deep Bench

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The backlash against Komen has claimed Karen Handel:

In an interview, Handel acknowledged she played a role in Komen's decision to defund Planned Parenthood, but also pushed back against allegations that she was the sole actor in the decision. "I clearly acknowledge [my role] in the process, but to suggest I had sole authority is just absurd," Handel told Fox News Tuesday afternoon. 

"The policy was vetted at all appropriate levels." Handel reiterated that Komen had stopped funding Planned Parenthood because of new grantmaking policies, further explaining that "controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood" also played a role.

I don't think that Handel, or her allies, quite understood the nature of their adversaries. I mentioned this in comments the other day but it's interesting to look at how Plannned Parenthood has weathered under targeting from the Right, as compared with other groups. This is not like ACORN. Whatever their significant work in poor communities and black and Latino communities, Planned Parenthood has touched women across race and across class, and thus indirectly, touched men across race and class too. 

Consider this testimony from one of the young ladies pictured below:

That's me and my best friend, three years after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. We were holding a fundraiser in 2008 for breast cancer research/awareness and celebrating another year of being cancer free. I am 27 years old and have been a breast cancer survivor for 7 years now. When I was originally diagnosed and treated, I was lucky to still be covered by my mother's insurance plan. The related medical costs were easier for us to handle. 

Once I graduated college, I was no longer eligible for coverage under my mother's insurance. So when I took my first job, I readily opted into my employer's insurance plan. After submitting my application, I was told that the insurance company would not cover any tests/procedures/expenses related to my pre-existing condition...breast cancer. Not only did I require biannual mammograms, I frequently required breast ultrasounds whenever something seemed out of the ordinary with my breast exams. These procedures are extremely expensive out-of-pocket. 

Additionally, I am limited as to what hormonal birth control I can take as a result of the cancer. I am limited to two types...and they are expensive. And naturally, my insurance company would not cover either of the two options that I am allowed to take. I've been in a relationship with my significant other for about six years. While we have regularly discussed the possibility of children, we are simply not ready. 

Birth control is essential for our life plan. Luckily, not only was I able to turn to Planned Parenthood for my mammogram needs, they became my ONLY source for affordable birth control. Early detection is the key against any type of cancer. The resources provided by Planned Parenthood have been invaluable to me personally. It has given me peace of mind to know with 100% certainty that I have remained cancer free. You cannot put a price on peace of mind. Thank you Planned Parenthood.

The thing about Planned Parenthood is when you run against them you aren't just fighting  welfare, or chastising lazy food stamp addicts. And you aren't simply bashing East Coast elites. You are making war against a free-floating nation with vassals, of all color and stripe, at the ready. 

It's often said that the diffuseness of gender poses a problem for feminists activists. But here you see how that very diffuseness can be transformed from weakness into power.


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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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