I know we’re wall-to-wall Komen, but they’ve finally gotten around to addressing their critics. Komen President Nancy Brinker’s YouTube damage control video is full of half-truths and errors of omission, but I want to focus on one of them (at 1:25 in the video):
Wherever possible we want to grant to the provider who is actually providing the lifesaving mammogram.
The notion that a organization providing breast cancer screening must have mammogram equipment to save lives is, simply, horseshit. First, mammograms are not indicated for women under 40, unless they have a family history of breast cancer or other factors (less than 2% of the total). The piece of equipment needed to perform the type of breast examination recommended by the American Cancer Society for women under 40 is available at every Planned Parenthood clinic: a trained provider’s hands. Doctors and other providers find cancer every day using manual exams. Lives are saved every day because a woman had a breast examination at Planned Parenthood. Here are the stories of just a few of those women.
Second, here in Rochester, we have a world-class mammography facility, staffed by a set of physicians who specialize in nothing but breast examination and some limited treatment. Every woman I know who gets a mammogram gets it at this site. I know of no gynecologist or family practitioner who has a mammogram machine. To think that Komen would restrict its grants to only a few centers in every city, and ignore the opportunities available to provide more access to the thousands of practitioners providing first-line care, shows just how crazy Brinker’s justification is.
Brinker is using a right-to-life dog-whistle, based on the idea that the medical care provided by Planned Parenthood is somehow incomplete or substandard. By the time she’s done whistling, Planned Parenthood is going to double or triple the amount of money they have at hand to do breast exams, especially when people like Michael Bloomberg start throwing down cash.