We’re going rogue with this year’s Think Before You Pink® campaign and connecting the dots between environmental racism, fossil fuel divestment, and the politics of breast cancer.

This week we’re focused on the Politics of Breast Cancer, because breast cancer has always been political. Who has access to healthcare, effective treatments, and safe and healthy environments is determined by economic inequality, by policies set at the local and federal level, and by the effectiveness of our regulatory agencies. As breast cancer activists, we build collective power and use legislative advocacy to demand changes in policy that will address and end breast cancer by preventing this disease before it starts.

The Politics of Breast Cancer

At BCAction, we address the politics of breast cancer at the intersections of social justice, legislation, and science. This encompasses a wide range of social, economic, and policy-related issues regarding breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, and support for individuals affected by the disease.

Breast Cancer Action’s Public Policy Priorities

Breast Cancer Action has three programmatic priorities: issues of breast cancer screening, treatment, and diagnosis; the root causes of the disease (a.k.a breast cancer and the environment); and pink ribbon marketing culture.

These core areas of expertise determine our policy priorities. We analyze, support or oppose, and take action on legislation regarding: policies in healthcare, including advocating for universal healthcare (issues of breast cancer screening, treatment, and diagnosis), policies on the environment and chemical regulation, including energy policies which impact the environment (root causes of the disease), and corporate accountability (borne of our critical lens on pink ribbon fundraisers, our experience in following the money, and our values related to accountability, transparency, and prioritizing people’s health over corporate profit).

Our Critical Lens

At BCAction, we use legislative advocacy to address the politics of breast cancer, and we carry out this advocacy in three ways: 1) We demand changes from legislators by sending letters, making calls, and attending virtual and in-person meetings in support of the passage of specific bills, 2) we endorse and join allied organizations in supporting or opposing bills, and 3) we make our community of breast cancer activists aware of relevant bills and issues, so we can take action together.

The criteria that guide our endorsements are:

  • Will this bill improve treatment outcomes for people living with and at risk of breast cancer?
  • Will this bill reduce our involuntary exposure to toxins that increase our risk for breast cancer?
  • Will this bill eliminate existing barriers to accessing affordable and quality healthcare?

Throughout our history, BCAction has addressed the ways in which this disease affects not just a person’s health but their finances, quality of life, and relationships. We have also addressed the ways in which this disease disproportionately affects low-income households and communities of color. We are known to be a trustworthy source of patient-centered materials and educational resources, bringing our organizational voice to tough breast cancer and health justice issues. We bring honesty, fearlessness, and truth-telling about the breast cancer crisis to public policy conversations.

The role of legislators and legislation must be to improve public services, reduce agency corruption, protect public health, and protect civil rights. We use legislative advocacy to hold our legislators accountable, and to demand they do their jobs well.

Economics and the Politics of Breast Cancer

Addressing the Politics of Breast Cancer includes calling out the effects our political and economic systems have on our health. We live, work, and play in a democratic country with a capitalist economic system. In the political economy space, there is debate about whether health and healthcare should be regarded as “public goods.” The U.S. is one of the countries where healthcare is not regarded as a public good, which is defined as a commodity or service that is available to use by every person in a society, without reducing the quantity available to others. These types of services and goods are paid for through taxation and are managed by the government. Examples of public goods under the current political-economic systems include street lighting and law enforcement agencies.

One of the major reasons the U.S. healthcare system is complex and inaccessible for an overwhelming number of people is because healthcare is largely provided by the private sector, which is known to be motivated by profit maximization and cost minimization. This profit-over-people, multi-billion-dollar healthcare industry has devastating impacts on public health.

The healthcare industry being mostly run by the private sector makes it particularly challenging to address and end the breast cancer crisis. Medication costs and treatment shouldn’t be determined by pharmaceutical and insurance companies. Health justice does not align with the profit-seeking and individual gain that unregulated capitalism encourages. Public health requires individual AND collective solutions.

More on this coming soon! We’ll be releasing further materials on how economics impacts the politics of breast cancer throughout and beyond Think Before You Pink.

Take Action!

This week, in week four of our 2023 Think Before You Pink Goes Rogue campaign, we invite you to join us in learning more about – and taking action on – the Politics of Breast Cancer. We’ll provide a visual explanation of how a bill becomes law and explain how to voice your concerns to your State and U.S. Congressional Representatives.

The Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act

BCAction is amplifying three ways to take during this year’s Think Before You Pink campaign, and the action accompanying this week’s materials on the politics of breast cancer is the Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act.

The Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) Access to Care Act calls for a waiver of the 24-month waiting period to obtain Medicare coverage, and the 5-month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, for eligible individuals with MBC. Passage of this bipartisan bill will help reduce disparities in treatment and healthcare services for people living with MBC.

Add your name now: We all deserve access to timely, quality, and affordable healthcare services. Let’s pass the MBC Access to Care Act!

Throughout Think Before You Pink Goes Rogue, we’ll take collective action on three pieces of legislation throughout the campaign: The Environmental Justice for All Act (to accompany our materials on environmental racism), California’s Senate Bill 252, the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill (coinciding with our week on fossil fuel divestment), and the Metastatic Access to Care Act, during this week on the politics of breast cancer.

Add your name on each of these issues now!

The Environmental Justice for All Act

The A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act will establish several environmental justice requirements, advisory bodies, and programs to address environmental racism. These policy reforms will rectify decades of unfair environmental harm done to low-income communities and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities.

Join activists nationwide and urge your Representatives to support the much-needed A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act.

California’s Senate Bill 252 (SB 252), The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill

SB 252 will require CalPERS and CalSTRS—the two largest public pension funds in the country—to divest over $14 billion from fossil fuel companies. Toxic fossil fuels have been linked to cancer-causing environmental exposures – they must be phased out!

Add your signature and urge your Representative to vote YES on SB 252, the Fossil Fuel Divestment bill. 

We’ll also invite you to take action on our virtual lobby day, Thursday October 26. Throughout the day we’ll be taking action on these three bills, and educating and encouraging our communities to do the same. Get ready to join us in virtual action on our Instagram and Facebook social media pages.