News broke yesterday that Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a well-known breast cancer charity, is no longer going to give grants to its Planned Parenthood affiliates because of “pressure from anti-abortion activists” and because “Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress,” according to this NPR article.
This is disappointing news. Planned Parenthood does a lot of good for women, especially in lower-income areas where they may not have access to a family physician. I thought that helping women was part of Komen’s mission. So why would Komen stop funding an organization that offered “more than 4 million breast exams over the past five years, including nearly 170,000 as a result of Komen grants?”
Susan G. Komen for the Cure claims that it is “the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists…working together to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures.” It’s fine if they do not want to provide funding for abortion services, or other reproductive health services, because it is their right to focus on breast health. However, Planned Parenthood does a lot more than abortion services.According to their own numbers, only 3% of services offered are abortions, whereas 34% are contraception, and 76% of their services are focused on prevention. What is it about providing nearly 750,000 breast exams each year—to a patient demographic in which 76% have incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level—that goes against Komen’s mission to “save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all,” and so on?
The Washington Post reported that “Komen said it could not continue to fund Planned Parenthood because it has adopted new guidelines that bar it from funding organizations under congressional investigations.” I remain skeptical of this explanation. Is this a common “guideline” for any entity other entity?
I understand that some people equate abortion with killing a person, so I know that this is going to continue to be an issue. I know that I can’t expect everyone to feel the same way about things as I do. Not everyone has the same kind of progressive values that Planned Parenthood and I have, but I can’t help but think that Susan G. Komen for the Cure is shooting themselves in the foot. They may be pleasing some people who are anti-abortion, but they are cutting themselves off from lower income and younger people who need medical services. They may find other organizations on which to bequeath Komen grants, but I doubt that Komen will be able to find any group that has such an extensive network of offices, contacts, and supporters as Planned Parenthood that has the same mission to provide preventative women’s health care to all.
As a final note, I can say that I learned some new things about Susan G. Komen for the Cure due to this latest news. Mainly that they look for other charities that use “for the cure” in their names and attempt legal action in order to halt them from using that phrase. There is a HuffPo article about it. You may want to sit down.
The main sentiment among the thousands of people posting online seems to be that regardless of one’s position on the issue of abortion, it is wrong to politicize women’s health. According to a new Polipulse analysis of online conversations about the issue, only 26 percent of people believe Komen made the right decision. Nearly a quarter of the people who expressed criticism of Komen’s decision online said they were going to pull their donations from Komen.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure says there wasn’t anything political about its decision to stop giving grants to Planned Parenthood.
But in Washington, every decision is political — and now the cancer-fighting organization may have turned itself from a “safe” charity into just another political lightning rod.
It may have ruined its fundraising, too, as its Facebook page filled up with messages from Planned Parenthood supporters promising they’ll never give a dime to the charity again.