Komen-Planned Parenthood Kerfuffle Exposes Something You Probably Didn’t Know

News flash: if you give money to that group that does the “pink ribbon” campaign for breast cancer, some of that money you give might go to an organization that performs hundreds of thousands of abortions every year.

That organization also gives out birth control and referrals to other agencies that provide free or low-cost mammograms and other women’s health stuff that are not abortion-related. That’s what Planned Parenthood does, and some of that breast cancer pink ribbon money you give goes to Planned Parenthood. Maybe not much money, and maybe not directly for abortion. But if you give money to Komen’s “pink ribbon” campaign, some of it might wind up in the hands of Planned Parenthood, which is a very large provider of abortions.

Recently, two women in the pro-life movement, through slightly sneaky means, managed to get Komen (the pink ribbon people) to stop giving money to Planned Parenthood. These women (one of them a breast cancer survivor herself) have always been quite up-front about the fact that they are staunchly against abortion, though they weren’t up front with the defunding of Planned Parenthood, arguing merely that organizations currently under investigation for possible legal or ethical violations shouldn’t get money from the Komen foundation–and it turns out that Planned Parenthood is under such investigation. This caused an explosion of outrage among pro-choice/abortion rights activists who (rightly I think) said it was a sneaky way to fight abortion. Planned Parenthood got a sudden surge of new donations, and Komen, in the wake of the publicity, changed their minds, somewhat, and said Planned Parenthood would still continue receiving whatever grant money it’s now getting and will remain eligible to apply for future grants, but did not say it actually would give any future grants to the organization.

What a lot of people in this whole story might have missed is what this stunt really did:

It just informed tens of millions of Americans that if they give money to those cute pink ribbon campaigns, some of their money might wind up in the hands of an organization that performs hundreds of thousands of abortions every year.

So while at the moment Planned Parenthood is reaping a wave of new donations from people who support Planned Parenthood’s abortion program, here’s what else happened:

Tens of millions of people with strong to moderate anti-abortion feelings have just learned that if you give money for pink ribbons, you may be giving money that helps an organization that performs hundreds of thousands of abortions every year. That, in fact, you may already have given money that you did not know might wind up in those folks’ hands.

An awful lot of pixels have been spilled on how this whole thing supposedly comes from a dastardly far-right-wing religious-extremist agenda. Which seems to expose a big blind spot a number of people suffer from: that performing abortions is an uncontroversial, mainstream thing that most people have no problem with. They just assume that if you feel otherwise, you’re somehow on the fringe, and maybe even have an agenda against women, or against poor people.

Here’s the problem: about half of Americans consider abortion immoral, and more than half would support greater restrictions on the practice than the law currently allows. Indeed, if you look only at American women, the numbers are rather stark: about half of all women consider themselves pro-life, and if you add up those women who would outlaw the procedure in all circumstances with those who would only allow it to be used under few or limited circumstances, you get about 64% of all American women. About two-thirds of American women, in other words.

If you don’t believe that, simply look at any nonpartisan poll that asks the question. They all look pretty much the same. Here is the latest from Gallup, for example, taken just last year.

Thus the problem here for the Pink Ribbon people is this: a lot of very mainstream American women (and men) are against abortion completely, and for a whole lot more of them, it is one thing to say “I don’t think it should be illegal” and quite another to say “I wish to donate money to an organization that does this.” Or, to put it shorter, there is a substantial gap between “I would not put someone in jail for this” and “here’s five bucks, go ahead and do it.”

And so I note again what it appears to me that this explosion of rage at the Komen Foundation’s action has really done:

Alerted millions of people to the fact that if they raise or donate “pink ribbon” money, some of that may go to Planned Parenthood, which performs hundreds of thousands of abortions every year. That, indeed, money they might already have given in the past may have already gone to that organization.

I suspect that the Komen Foundation will in the long run suffer from this not because they said they’d stop giving money to Planned Parenthood. Yes, this angered pro-choice/pro-abortion-rights people, and yes, and some of them are still angry even though Komen has backpedaled somewhat. However, I suspect that the biggest problem for Komen long-term is that the vast majority of Americans, who are deeply uncomfortable with abortion, will never look at those pink ribbons quite the same way again, and may now begin to hesitate, asking themselves exactly where that money might go.

I for one will never look at those pink ribbons quite the same way again.

And by the way, your own position on abortion? It isn’t exactly relevant is it? It is the opinion of the millions of people who used to give pink ribbon money who will now be thinking twice about giving money for pink ribbons. That’s not your problem, it’s Komen’s.

It’s high time we acknowledge that opposition to abortion is not a “religious extremist” position. It is a thoroughly mainstream opinion among American women (and men), and I suspect very little blustering about how you personally feel about the matter is going to change the fact that the famous pink ribbon now doesn’t look quite the same as it used to.

(This item cross-posted to The Moderate Voice.)

Support independent journalism

  • http://gamepursuits.net/ipb/index.php?act=idx Sandi

    This has been on the TV news, but thanks for your post making the whole thing clearer.

    I’ve been a Komen foundation supporter for many years. I even use Komen bank checks.

    That all ends now. The pink ribbon is tainted.

  • http://www.roaringshark.com zach

    i think the two issues are separable. i may be wrong because i am definitely no expert on this, but my understanding is that komen money to planned parenthood is explicitly for funding breast cancer screenings.

    the fact of the matter is that abortion is legal and therefore any entity which focuses on health services is likely to also perform abortions. should you not donate to a hospital’s new cancer center because that hospital performs abortions? imvho if you believe abortion is immoral then you have to work to change that at a national level. if you take komen at their word that they are the best place to spend your breast cancer dollar, then presumably some of that money going to planned parenthood is due to a favorable cost/benefit analysis (i.e. planned parenthood is an efficient and effective provider of breast cancer screenings).

    saying “the pink ribbon is tainted” because it provided support for breast cancer screenings at an entity which performs abortions is like saying that your chemotherapy was “tainted” because it was performed at a hospital where abortions are performed.

    a better reason why “the pink ribbon is tainted” may be provided by this movie (link), but without having seen it myself i can only say it sounds intriguing.

  • http://www.jerrykindall.com/ Jerry Kindall

    An argument I’ve heard is that Komen’s funding to PP, even if it may not be used for abortions, “frees up” money for abortions that they would have otherwise had to have obtain elsewhere. Not sure how much I buy that, however. My understanding is that PP, like most non-profits, decides what services it wants to deliver and then seeks funding specifically for those services with specific grants. I am sure they get a certain quantity of non-earmarked donations, but I’m also sure that the majority of their donations are for specific purposes. About a third of PP’s funding comes from the Federal government, by the way (these funds may not be used for abortions).

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    People are going at me pretty heavy over in the thread at The Moderate Voice, but it’s civil enough. Mostly they seem to want to argue about abortion, rather than what this is really about, which is how people will see the Pink Ribbon from now on. Because I think that up until now, most people who’ve seen that pink ribbon and thought “Oh I’ll be helping fight breast cancer!” and given it not a second thought beyond that, and that isn’t going to happen quite so quickly anymore.

    Although no one asked me, I frankly think it’s about time more people be confronted with the fact that when they give money to a cause they really should do some research first. I don’t think Komen is a scam outfit, but there are a lot of scammers out there.

    You can make a good argument that giving to Komen is not helping provide abortions. But the very fact that this is now out in the open for discussion is not likely to help Komen much. They’re going to face three choices:

    1) Keep funding PP and lose some donors because of that
    2) Stop funding PP and lose some donors because of that
    3) Ride the storm out and hope it goes away.

    #3 looks like their safest bet. Right now angry pro-choicers are throwing money at them like crazy in an effort to fight the “right wing anti-choice zealots.” Long-term, maybe all those pro-lifers (and that vast majority of people who stand somewhere in between the poles of this axis) will forget the issue and/or conclude that the Planned Parenthood funding is not that big a deal. But my bet is not: now that the news is out, a whole lot of people will never look at that ribbon the same and will think twice before grabbing one.

    I sympathize with Komen’s position. There appear to be no easy win for them here .

  • Buddy

    Strike one up for the negative in this household, but the first thing my wife said when she heard a friend of ours was running for Komen (race for the cure) was that she supported PP and as such she has been extraordinarily vehement about not supporting our friends walk or anything about Komen. Personally I was rather ignorant of Komen, although I’d seen the ‘tatas’ ribbons.

    When she found out they had revoked funding to PP, she cheered that move. When they reversed oposition again, she exhibited even MORE vehemently repeated her stand on non-support AND emailed all her friends, posted all over FB/twitter/blog/email lists/everywhere else in the known universe about it.

    My wife very rarely gets worked up like this about anything, and she was pretty PO’d at the situation — more-so than I’ve seen her in a while about an issue. I can’t help but think that there are quite a few similar women out there.

    I think you have pretty well hit the nail on the head, Dean. I think this has resulted, and will continue to result, in a metric crap-tonne of ill boding will against Komen from conservative leaning women and will leave a permanent mark with people that similarly might have bought those ribbons but not really delved into the specifics.


    Check your email, I just found something strange on your blog config.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/cityofbrass Aziz Poonawalla

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/cityofbrass Aziz Poonawalla

    Incidentally, planned parenthood has done more to prevent abortions – yes, prevent – than the entiretty of the pro-life movement ever has since its *ahem* conception.

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    Despite my loathing for linking anyone who whips out the odious “lie” word, Don Surber does a pretty good job of demonstrating that the claim that only 3% of what Planned parenthood does is abortions is an assertion of dubious merit. It appears that the only way they can do that is by lumping multiple services together–so if you come in for an abortion AND get a referral for a mastectomy AND you get some condoms AND you get an STD test, that’s four services you got from them, so they can count the abortion as only a quarter of what they did for you.

    The 3% figure is not what’s relevant. What’s relevant is that it appears that about 10% of Planned Parenthood’s clients get abortions from them, out of about 3 million people a year, or around 300,000 abortions a year.

    One may well argue that by providing sex education and birth control they are preventing abortions. They probably are.

    But then, aside from a tiny minority, almost no one would criticize them for giving birth control and information and testing and all those other services to adults. Somewhat more will object to them doing it for minors without parental consent, which is a whole ‘nother argument, but most people would not generally condemn them for any of those other things.

    But you cannot escape that 300,000 abortions a year number–you can’t. People who care about this are not just raving religious loons. A certain percentage are, but as surveys clearly show, MOST people are rather centrist on this question and have some discomfort over it. And now Komen’s stuck in the middle of it.

  • Dishman

    There’s a huge difference between tolerate/accept and supp0rt.

    The range of things I will tolerate or accept is about as wide as you’re likely to encounter. I am actively disinterested in what other people are doing as long as it isn’t harming anyone.

    I’ll argue philosophy, but that’s only words. You can take my words or not as you see fit. If you’re in a place where philosophy is argued, my assumption is that you’re willing to argue philosophy.

    Politics have more relevance, because sometimes politics actually does something. Even there, though, it’s mostly just talk and ideas.

    As for what I actually support, that’s much, much narrower. Again it’s a matter of active disinterest. I really don’t want to be involved in most of what other people do. I neither support nor oppose it.

    That such a distinction is possible seems to escape a lot of people. The rejection of neutral ground strikes me as Tribalism. “You’re either with us or against us.”

  • Elizabeth Reid

    Even if it’s 10% of their clients getting abortions, that means 90% of their clients aren’t, and most of those people are low-income women whose access to preventative health care is otherwise pretty limited. I can certainly understand those on the right who are indignant that an abortion provider was getting their donated money, but much of the the indignation on the left is coming from the fact that if you pull money from PP, you’re de-funding mammograms for women who otherwise might not get them. Komen would have been much, much better off if they had been straightforward about their reasons and lined up some other recipient of the money who could plausibly have been claimed to be performing the same services for the same population, minus the abortions. I don’t know if an exact equivalent exists, but they probably could have come up with something. Doing it the way they did it was dumb, because it was kind of ludicrously transparent that it was a pretext AND once they’d committed to the pretext they couldn’t offer any other more reasoned defense of their actions. Now they’re kind of damned if they do, damned if they don’t with one group of donors or the other.

  • mikeca

    How far do we want to take this argument?

    I know that Apple Computer provide health care plans to their employees (at least here in Calif) that cover abortion services. Therefore, if you buy an iPhone of iPad, you are helping to fund abortions. Are you going to boycott Apple products because of this?

    Most employer health insurance plans here in Calif cover abortions. Are you going to start boycotting products from all of them?

    The point is, abortion is currently legal, within certain bounds. Many people think abortion is immoral and they want to change the law, which is fine. For a charitable organization which is trying to raise money for breast cancer research and prevention to inject itself into the middle of the abortion debate is simply an unforced error and at stupid decision.

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    Adding to the complexity of the issue is that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms to anyone. They merely offer referral services to women who want them to others who will give them free or reduced cost mammograms. And you know, if PP made efforts to do exactly the same with some of its more controversial services, and maybe added referrals to abortion alternatives (of which there are usually many, the number of people lining up to adopt babies is sky-high in this country) maybe PP would do better than to stand alone on its status as the birth control people to shelter it from all other criticism, and to stop insinuating that if you’ve got issues with abortion you have a secret agenda to destroy women’s health and eliminate birth control.

    As far as how far to take a line of argument: I suppose it comes down to individual point of view, but I suspect most people would be more irked to learn that the World Wildlife Fund is spending money on fancy trips to French Riviera resorts for its executives than they would to learn that Apple Computer is doing that. There’s a different line of expectation when you buy something than when you volunteer your time and money. Or so I think.

    There’s no question that pro-life advocates (who aren’t all right-wing by the way) started this stink. But that doesn’t make it go away. Cat’s out of the bag, and the news is no longer stuck in obscure paperwork you have to go out of your way to look for anymore.

  • Elizabeth Reid

    I don’t know if that was directed to me, but I think there’s a difference between “insinuating that if you’ve got issues with abortion you have a secret agenda to destroy women’s health and eliminate birth control” and arguing that if you remove funds from Planned Parenthood because of your issues with abortion, you are also as a consequence removing funds for birth control and other women’s health services (and by more proportionally, because the vast majority of what PP does isn’t abortion, by either the 3% or the 10% figure). You don’t have to be holding it as a secret conspiratorial agenda for that to happen. That’s why I said it would have defused at least some of the criticism if Komen had made explicit plans to redirect the money withdrawn from PP to another entity that could provide many of the other services without the abortion component.

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    It wasn’t directed at you. I run into it in other discussions, surprisingly often, and see it occasionally in editorials. The insinuation is usually that you’re all about hurting poor women, or opposing birth control, or controlling women, if you’ve got issues with Planned Parenthood.

    I would argue that this mentality serves Planned Parenthood in the short run but it hurts them long-term as it draws them animosity from millions of people of both sexes and a variety of political viewpoints who don’t have any serious issues with anything else they do.

    From an outside perspective, it looks like PP relies heavily on the revenues from the abortions to fund their other work; they charge anywhere from $350 to $650 for abortions, which would probably add up to somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 million a year gross revenue. I don’t know if they can afford to give that revenue up, but I think in terms of public image they’d look better if they made visible efforts to transition as much as possible from being an abortion provider to a referral service that directs people to all options available. That might take them a while if their goal is to also ensure that the options actually -are- available elsewhere and nearby, but I would suspect that with a decade or so’s work they could ensure they have the abortion option available everywhere without being the actual providers. They would still take some flack but probably considerably less as they could credibly say “we provide referrals to multiple adoption agencies as well as to low-cost abortion providers. All we do is refer.” But they might lose more support than they gain from that, I don’t know.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/cityofbrass Aziz Poonawalla

    Elizabeth – you just owned this thread. Kudos.

    Dean: “dubious merit” ? Surber gets all swoony with condescension towards Ezra for the 3% claim, but Ezra himself links to the methodology behind the chart and explicitly says a. the services are “unbundled” from customers and b. PP served 3 million women and performed 300,000 abortions. What is dubious here? Its a different take on the data, sure, but Surber has no qualms about making a moral judgement, something you are careful not to do.

    Now, Surber has an axe to grind so of course he will assume that the women who is there for an abortion is handed a condom and boom! now she’s also received “contraceptive services”. This sugests a very poor understanding of women’s health. Women don’t need a service in isolation, and if a woman is there fo an abortion she is probably a. poor and b. has crap insurance. Who the frack are you or Surber or anyone else to say that she didn’t *need* the extra services she gets from PP that she cant get anywhere else?

    Yeah, 10% of PP’s clients receive abortions. And yeah, 3% of PP’s services are abortion. That means that the majority of women whp go to PP are also receiving preventive medical care. Thats an unalloyed GOOD THING and on its merits is sufficient to defend funding to PP irrespective of ideology.

    Unless you’re a fucking hypocrite, if you’re pro-life you SHOULD be funding PP, period.

    And as Elizabeth said, its not a big deal to say “hey PP< here's teh same 600k we gave last year, but this year we stipulate you cant use that to fund abortions."

    Since Komen didnt say that, they have a pretty clear agenda revealed, don't they?

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/cityofbrass Aziz Poonawalla

    By the way, P doesn’t just make “referrals” for mammo – they pay. So even if the mamography isnt happening on site (and given teh technical equipment required, digital mammo is something you DONT want done just anwhere because the radiation dose risk is ONLY mitigated f the scan has genuine diagnostic quality), PP is still “providing” it. its totally disingenous to say PP doesnt provide mammo.

    in fact women DO receive breast exams at PP clinics, which only requires a pair of hands, and thats something even more important than mammo.

    that whole line of “pp does’t do mammo” attack is solely designed to discredit PP as doing nothing signiicant for breast cancer when in fact they are probably the first line of defense in screening the lower middle and poor class population.

    this whole thing is just sickening.

  • http://www.marypmadigan.com/blog/ Mary Madigan

    Dean, you say “Thus the problem here for the Pink Ribbon people is this: a lot of very mainstream American women (and men) are against abortion completely”

    However, the Gallup poll you reference says that only 22% wanted it to be “illegal in all cases.” That’s not ‘a lot’.

    The pollsters also called the belief that all abortion should be illegal “one of the extreme views,” which would imply that this belief is not mainstream.

    You also say: “However, I suspect that the biggest problem for Komen long-term is that the vast majority of Americans, who are deeply uncomfortable with abortion, will never look at those pink ribbons quite the same way again”

    According to the Gallup poll, “Americans are closely divided between those calling themselves “pro-choice” and those who are “pro-life,” …[this is] the first time since 2008 that the “pro-choice” position has had the numerical advantage on this Gallup trend.”

    Slightly more than half is not ‘the vast majority of Americans”. There’s also the margin of error question to deal with.

    Nor is the choice to call oneself pro-life a sign that one is deeply uncomfortable with abortion. From empirical data that I’ve personally accumulated on the subject of the abortion debates, most Americans have no strong opinions on the subject, find the debate to be unnecessarily politically divisive, and would rather talk about just about anything else.

    The fact that the people polled identify as pro-choice or pro-life could mean that the respondents felt that they had to choose between two sides that are both, in many ways, disagreeable (as we do in most elections). It could also mean that they belong to the small sampling that felt strongly enough about the subject not to make an excuse about being busy & hang up on the interviewer.

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    Mary: For starters let’s make it clear that this is not about how you or I feel about abortion. In my experience that is almost always a fruitless argument. This is about public perception and how Komen and Planned Parenthood are viewed in this context.

    In that context, I would call 22% a lot myself; call it 1 in 5. Do the pink ribbon people want to lose 1 in 5 potential donors? They potentially have with this news. On the other hand, there’s the flip side, the people who want it available in all circumstances, who interestingly enough are roughly the same percentage: 20-25%. Can Komen afford to piss THEM off?

    But I think it goes further: the poll I cite shows that now roughly half of Americans, men and women alike, say they feel abortion is immoral. About half now describe themselves as “pro-life,” up considerably from where it was a decade or so ago (my guess is that ultrasounds had a lot to do with that). And while a clear majority of Americans say they want the procedure legal, 22% say they want it illegal entirely and another roughly 40% want it legal in only a few circumstances, and only about a quarter want it available with no restrictions at all–which indicates to me a wide discomfort with the issue.

    This is consistent with another independent recent poll, by the way, by CBS News and the New York Times (here), showing that 37% of Americans want abortion to be generally available, while another 37% say they want it more restricted than it is now and 23% (virtually identical to the Gallup number) want it outlawed completely.

    What this demonstrates, to me, is a very large number of people who are potentially going to be rather unhappy to hear that a some part of the “race for the cure” and “save the ta-tas” buttons they bought or raised money for went to the nation’s largest on-demand abortion provider.

    Komen is not in a good position here. While much of the news of late has focused on angry pro-choicers condemning Komen and writing checks to Planned Parenthood, few I’ve seen (so far) have thought about the long-term ramifications. Will the angry pro-choicers continue to funnel extra money to Planned Parenthood in angry reaction, or will that peter off as anger cools? Will angry pro-choicers refuse to support the Pink Ribbon because they are mad at Komen for being wishy-washy on the subject?

    And when the news cools down, will the average American with ambivalent or negative feelings on this issue (which appears to be the majority) forget, or will the pink ribbon forevermore look suspicious to them?

    Komen is not in a good position here. I don’t know how they get out of it except it looks offhand like they need to make a tough choice, batten down the hatches, and wait out the storm.

  • http://www.marypmadigan.com/blog/ Mary Madigan

    You say: “In that context, I would call 22% a lot myself; call it 1 in 5.”
    But in the basic, factual, mathematical, scientific context no one calls 22% out of 100% ‘a lot’.

    It’s your opinion that it’s a lot, but since you also said “And by the way, your own position on abortion? It isn’t exactly relevant is it?” we have to assume that you’re including your own opinion in the ‘not exactly relevant’ group.

    You say: “the poll I cite shows that now roughly half of Americans, men and women alike, say they feel abortion is immoral” but the word ‘immoral’ isn’t used at any point in the poll. The title of the poll is “Americans Still Split Along Pro-Choice”, “Pro-Life” lines.

    Pollsters also point out that: “Accordingly, Republicans and Democrats also differ in their views on the morality and legality of abortion. Nearly three-quarters of Republicans consider abortion morally wrong and nearly 8 in 10 say abortion should be legal in only a few circumstances or illegal in all circumstances. By contrast, just over half of Democrats believe abortion is morally acceptable and say abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances.”

    Which comes first, the opinions about abortion/global warming/the war in Iraq or the partisan team spirit? We all know that people who don’t feel strongly about one thing or another will sometimes often argue vehemently about an issue if they feel that their party’s interests are being threatened. Religious team spirit also influences opinions.

    The pollsters conclude that: “Americans’ views on abortion held fairly steady over the past year, with the public still sharply divided over the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” labels. Nevertheless, majorities of Americans indicate some reluctance about abortion on both moral and legal grounds. This is seen most strongly among Republicans and older Americans.”

    Could this poll, like most polls taken since about 1968, be overly influenced by now-aging baby boomers? It’s likely.

    I agree that the Komen foundation really stepped in it this time. If there’s anything we can learn about these polls, it’s that, if you’re a charitable foundation, you shouldn’t do anything that will get the fringes & pundits of the right and the left riled up, especially in an election season.

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    Aziz: “dubious merit” means that it may be accurate but not clearly applicable in this context. To me it looks a little like using air humidity levels to demonstrate how hard it’s raining at the moment.

    Whether intended or not, Klein’s graph appears to obscure the fact that every year 10% of Planned Parenthood service recipients receive abortions.

    As the second link you provided (I mean this one, so there’s no confusion) shows, 10% of people who go to those clinics every year get abortions, and according to Planned Parenthood themselves that means about 330,000 abortions a year.

    OK, clear enough. In fact, I think I can make you an even better chart to make your point, and Klein’s:

    Planned Parenthood 10% abortions

    There. I think that’s clear enough and shouldn’t look in the least bit fishy to anybody. I hereby issue a blanket license to anyone (including you or Klein) who wants to use that to do so to make whatever argument they want so long as they attribute it to me and do not make any modifications to it. Otherwise, make your own damn chart. 😉

    NOW: While I am quite certain there are people who consider themselves “pro-life” who support Planned Parenthood anyway–I know people who do–I am equally certain there are people who consider themselves Pro-choice who do not. That is because this is a complicated issue and it does not come easy for most people.

    I do not think it indicates any lack of understanding of women’s health to note that people who get abortions also get other services from Planned Parenthood. In fact, if Planned Parenthood does NOT automatically give counseling, birth control, STD screening, and etc. to anyone it gives an abortion to, shame on them. But I am willing to wager they do. That’s part of why Klein’s original chart confuses as much as it clarifies.

    Further, I do not agree that anyone who considers themselves pro-life should feel obligated to support the nation’s largest on-demand abortion provider. I do not consider my friends who are either pro-life or pro-choice to be hypocrites if they have issues with Planned Parenthood.

    Note that I have not given my own opinion on abortion OR Planned Parenthood. I decline to do so at this time because I have found that if I give my own opinion I will be subjected to people who want to argue with my opinion, including potentially no small amount of verbal abuse (not here, I don’t put up with that, but I get it on other sites, including some TMV readers). This isn’t about me.

    What it’s about is the fact that most Americans are at minimum uncomfortable with abortion and knowing that the pink ribbons have any association with that is a problem for the Komen foundation and one I personally doubt is going to go away any time soon. I don’t know how they fix it.

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    Mary: I don’t think my position on abortion is particularly relevant, no. It’s arguably less relevant than yours.

    Regarding the Gallup poll, I think you missed this part:

    Men: 40%
    Women: 39%
    Age 18-34 years: 44%
    Age 35-54 years: 42%
    Age 55 and older: 34%

    Men: 51%
    Women: 51%
    Age 18 to 34 years: 53%,
    Age 35-54: years 48%
    Age 55 and older: 51%

    That partially answers your question about the boomers by the way. I also think within that roughly half who think it’s morally acceptable or decline to answer we still have ambivalence about it, it would otherwise be hard to explain those who think it should be legal but still want legal restrictions on it. “I think it’s morally acceptable but not all the time” is probably a common viewpoint. Again, that would indicate widespread ambivalence and conflicted feelings, which in my experience is where most people are at, regardless of how you or I might feel about it.

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    I also can’t help but notice something else fascinating to me about the Gallup poll. I’m thankful that it breaks up the response between men and women because I’m very tired of this being viewed as a “men vs. women” issue–not that everybody does this, but I’ve had enough people browbeat me and/or generally proclaim that the anti-abortion position is the “anti-women’s rights/men oppressing women” stance that it grates at me. You can argue that women have more of a right to an opinion than men do, but the surveys do not bear out the idea that this is an issue of men trying to dominate or subjugate women. Every poll I’ve seen that does bother to break out between the sexes fails to show that and, if anything, tends to indicate slightly stronger pro-life feelings among women than men. For example, the latest gallup poll, measuring the most extreme pro-lifers (the ones who want the procedure illegal in all circumstances) looks like this:

    Men: 19%
    Women: 24%

    That’s pretty much outside the margin of error; when it comes to extreme pro-life views, women are more strongly represented than men by a small but significant margin. Of those who want it legal in only a few circumstances (i.e. more restricted than now), 36% of women feel that way. If we had a national referendum restricting abortion significantly and only allowed women to vote on it, right now it would likely pass by a wide margin.

    I’m not saying we should have such a referendum. I’m just saying personally, I tire of people who try to make this a men vs. women issue when it clearly is not. Take men entirely out of the argument and you still have a very bitter fight on your hands.

    The pro-lifers who pulled the stunt at Komen were women, after all. And yes, they obviously did it on purpose and yes it was obviously a stunt. It seems to have worked to get them the attention they wanted. Whether it works to their benefit or backfires on them long-term is hard to say. Short-term Planned Parenthood’s gotten a flood of donations, but how it plays long-term is another question.

    By the way, that roughly 1/5th who want to completely ban the procedure? I don’t think most of them really mean it when push comes to shove and when they encounter certain situations they’ll sometimes change their minds. On the other hand, I don’t know how the people on the other extreme (absolutely morally acceptable under all circumstances) can be present at an ultrasound screening and not come out the other side being just a smidge less certain of themselves.

    One thing I’ve long thought, and still do think, is that in another generation or so the whole debate’s going to change, when artificial uteruses come online and are reliable for humans. Like the self-driving car, I expect those to happen faster than most people think (although not as soon as the cars). I would guess before the turn of the next decade; they’ll first come into use as interventionary technology for miscarriages, then probably for high-risk pregnancies, then probably, eventually, as simply an option. This will force difficult questions on pretty much everybody: will the most strident pro-lifers suggest that we really must attempt to bring every miscarriage and every conceived egg to term? Artificial wombs would make that possible. On the flip side, will it be so easy to say “yes, terminate that 4 month old fetus, no problem” when you can suck it out and still have a baby? I think those answers are not going to be blithely and quickly answered by anyone.

    Of course that’s not where we’re at now. But it’s where we’re headed in the long run.

  • http://www.marypmadigan.com/blog/ Mary Madigan

    Dean – you’re right, I did miss the ‘moral’ question on the poll. Those results would tend to confirm the results (that also surprised me) of this poll, which found that the the majority of Republicans doubt the theory of evolution.

    Then there’s this poll which says 3 in 4 Americans believe in the Paranormal

    Yet, despite this, we still manage to educate people well enough to develop artificial wombs and self-driving cars.

    I don’t know if these surprising poll results are due to strangeness among Americans or strangeness in the people who respond to polls. But I do know that even unbiased polls are not very good at predicting who will win elections or primaries, so I have to guess that the results can be skewed inadvertently.

    I’m not surprised that women are more likely to enforce religion-based ideas. Women have traditionally used their role as enforcers of religious customs and ceremonies as a way of gaining power in and outside of the home.

    Artificial uteruses are an interesting but scary concept. I was one of those artsy-fartsy moms who played classical music for my kids before they were born – and they both like and understand that kind of music a lot better than I do. There are all kinds of things that happen before kids are born that they perceive in some way. Like the invention of reasonably effective contraception, this is a development that will probably shake things up a lot..

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    Aziz: Oh, I forgot to ask, do you have a source for the assertion that Planned Parenthood pays for mammograms? Thanks.

    Mary: I have a hard time relegating the abortion to a matter of religious conviction. I’ve encountered too many people of fringe new-agey religions and no religion at all, even feminist atheists, with anti-abortion convictions. Although I have no doubt religion plays a part. I would love to do a survey that looks at that question in detail.

    I’ve had people scoff at me that we can’t possibly hope to see artificial wombs in our lifetimes, but I think that as with a lot of things people forget that technology develops at a non-linear rate. We had partially-successful experiments like this some years ago, now we have a successful one with one aquatic animal. If we aren’t seeing large mammals by the end of the decade I’ll be surprised. Then people will object that you can’t do this with humans because it’s unethical, until they first try using one on a premature infant. If they succeed with that (and I have no doubt they eventually will, although initial attempts may fail) it’s only a matter of time before its use becomes more common.

    You did the play-music-in-the-womb thing too eh? Yeah we did that for Jake. Most complicated instrumentals and blues, but some classical. It seems to have had some noticeable effect but not sure how much. :-)