The stunning announcement last week, that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation was pulling its funding of Planned Parenthood for breast cancer prevention, screenings and education, was met with outrage by hundreds of thousands of women, and organizations across the country. Taken by surprise, and embarrassed by the national outcry, Komen for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker “sort of” apologized yesterday, though her carefully worded retraction left it unclear whether funding would continue. Brinker’s speech was ambiguous at best, offering no firm commitment to renew funding in the future.
What does this have to do with yoga? A lot.
Yoga teaches us to stand up for what is right, regardless of current trends, the “view du jour,” or the political climate. By yoga’s standards, then, it is very clear that the Komen Foundation succumbed to the pressure of the pro-life lobby … and that of its recently hired Senior VP for Public Policy, Karen Handel, a staunch pro-life advocate who is opposed to continuing funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides abortion counseling, and abortions.
I’m relieved that intense pressure from life-long supporters — not to mention the wildly negative press this decision sparked — forced the Komen Foundation to reverse its decision. This episode has reinforced my belief that we must do what is right, compassionate, and kind, and that we cannot allow political or religious influences to cloud our judgment. Politics and religion should stay away from a woman’s reproductive rights.
For the many women who could not afford breast cancer screening without Planned Parenthood, the withdrawal of funding by the Komen Foundation could have been life-threatening.
What will it take for us, collectively, as a country, and as a society, to understand that we cannot permit personal beliefs, political aspirations, or financial considerations, to influence our actions when it comes to right and wrong? As Bob Dylan sang so passionately, ” … how many deaths will it take till we know, that too many people have died?”
I love yoga because it is color-blind, gender-blind, sexual-orientation-blind, cause-blind, political-party-blind, money-blind, belief-blind. Yoga asks only that we find our deepest truths (satya) and live by them, without harming others (ahimsa).
Truth and non-harming: not bad tenets to live by.
Hopefully, with Mayor Bloomberg’s grant, and funding restored, thousands of women’s lives will be saved. If the Komen Foundation does indeed reinstate its support of Planned Parenthood, it will have found its way to the only truth that matters here: that women must be protected from the political games played at the highest levels of power.
I just wish the Foundation had never taken this step. And that, once taken, it had reversed its decision for the right reasons … which it did not.
I wish they did yoga.