"Breast cancer has always been a part of my life," says Kate Harmer, a 30-year-old Seattle resident. "My mom was diagnosed when I was nine and passed away from breast cancer when I was 19. I grew up knowing that I could get breast cancer, that my sister could have it, doctors told us that because our mom had breast cancer that we were really at high risk.
"When I graduated high school, I lost my health insurance. All throughout college and graduate school, I was without insurance—yet I had this high risk of breast cancer—and the only place I could get free screenings was Planned Parenthood. For 10 years, I would go to Planned Parenthood for my annual physicals, checkups, and breast exams. They were my primary healthcare provider.
"Without Planned Parenthood, I don't know what I would've done. I'm only insured now because I married someone with health insurance.
"And now, I'm torn," Harmer says, referring to Komen's decision to defund Planned Parenthood breast cancer screenings. "My family tries to participate in Komen's Race for the Cure every year and I try to raise money beyond the standard entrance fee. Race for the Cure is an emotional event for me every year. It is a way I remember and honor my mother. I will still participate for that reason, but I may not try to raise additional funds beyond the entry fee. While I support them, I may try to find ways to funnel more of my money towards supporting Planned Parenthood instead.
"I hope, at the very least, Susan G. Komen uses the funds they were giving to Planned Parenthood to set up some alternative breast health centers or screening options.
"Also, my hope is that somehow the response from their decision will raise awareness that Planned Parenthood is so much more than about abortions or sexual health [for example, PP abortions account for less than three percent of the organization's services, while breast cancer screenings account for 17 percent]. Women NEED Planned Parenthood and they NEED breast screenings. And now they're being attacked. Hopefully people will see that these needs aren't political and their funding will be reinstated.