DAVID GREENBERG'S office phone was ringing off the hook on Friday, February 3. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to talk to the Portland Planned Parenthood chief about the controversial funding flip from the Susan G. Komen Foundation: In the space of three days, the breast cancer foundation yanked $680,000 of funding from Planned Parenthood, defended its decision, and then apologized. The local Komen branch wrote its own letter condemning the national group's decision, though they don't happen to grant money to Oregon's Planned Parenthood affiliates.
MERCURY: When did you hear about Komen's reversal and what was your first reaction?
DAVID GREENBERG: Well, actually, it's not necessarily a reversal. This morning I woke up to the news that the national Komen Foundation had apologized to the American people and said they would reconsider their funding policy—but they didn't say they would reinstate the money, so I think American women are going to be watching to see what they really do.
This has been a rough year for Planned Parenthood politically. Why do you think you've become such a political target, recently?
Well, I believe that there are the same political motivations for going after Planned Parenthood through Komen or through Congress, it's the same right-wing radical folks who are trying to hurt this organization because of the their political motivations.
But Planned Parenthood has been doing this work for decades. What's changed that you're in the spotlight so much this year?
Planned Parenthood has been around for almost 100 years. The very beginning of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, who started this organization, was thrown in jail for simply talking about birth control. She published a pamphlet and sent it through the mail, so she was prosecuted for that. When she came to speak in Portland, she was thrown in jail here, as well. While it looked like the debate after Roe in 1973 was about abortion, it always was about rights for women. It was about their right to know about birth control, it was about their right to have access to information, to delay pregnancy or prevent pregnancies they don't want. What we've seen in the last year is a more blatant return to challenging women in this country. Whether it's birth control or breast exams, in some ways it's a return to the original social justice issues that Margaret Sanger stood for 100 years ago.
In what ways has Planned Parenthood changed its political strategy to counter the recent attacks?
It's not Planned Parenthood changing its tactics, it's millions of people taking a stand. And thousands of people in this community. I've gotten dozens of emails since the Komen decision, our national organization has gotten literally millions of contacts from supporters. It's reminded us that we each have some connection to breast cancer. My mom is a breast cancer survivor—each family has a story.