Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the famous breast cancer charity, recently announced privately to Planned Parenthood that it will stop funding the organization for mammograms and related services to low income women. David Crary reports for the Huffington Post:
The nation’s leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates—creating a bitter rift, linked to the abortion debate, between two iconic organizations that have assisted millions of women.
The change will mean a cutoff of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, mainly for breast exams.
Planned Parenthood says the move results from Komen bowing to pressure from anti-abortion activists. Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress–a probe launched by a conservative Republican who was urged to act by anti-abortion groups.
The Susan G Komen Foundation claims it temporarily ended the relationship because the family planning organization is currently under investigation by Congress. As of last year, Komen has a new rule that says they can’t contribute funds to organizations that are under investigation at the local, state, or federal level. Coincidently, the rule came into effect when Republican legislator Rep. Cliff Stearns, of Florida opened an investigation seeking to determine whether Planned Parenthood spent public money improperly on abortions.
But there’s more to the story. John Aravosis of Americablog reports that in April of 2011, Karen Handel became the Foundation’s Senior Vice President for Public Policy. Who is she? In 2010, Karen Handel ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary for governor of Georgia. She was endorsed by Sarah Palin and ran on an anti-choice, “pro-life” platform, vowing that if elected, she would defund Planned Parenthood. According to Americablog Handel wrote on her campaign website:
I will be a pro-life governor who will work tirelessly to promote a culture of life in Georgia. . . . I believe that each and every unborn child has inherent dignity, that every abortion is a tragedy, and that government has a role, along with the faith community, in encouraging women to choose life in even the most difficult of circumstances. . . . since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.
If elected, she promised to eliminate funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings provided by the organization as well as funding for “a Healthy Baby Initiative.”
Lets see: A person who appears to have a personal mission to destroy Planned Parenthood takes a high-ranking policy position in an organization that provides funding to Planned Parenthood, and soon, that organization defunds Planned Parenthood. But according to Komen Foundation spokeswoman Leslie Aun, the cutoff of over $600,000 in funds to Planned Parenthood for services to low-income women is just about internal rule following. And, if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.
According to Planned Parenthood, in the past five years support from Susan G. Komen allowed their health centers to provide nearly 170,000 breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals. The charity’s decision has succeeded only in depriving low-income women of cancer screenings that could save their lives—a move that flies in the face of Komen’s mission.
And, to add to that, it is especially appalling to me that an organization dedicated to helping women cure themselves of breast cancer would deny those same women the right to control their own bodies.
Madonna Gauding is a freelance writer, illustrator and book designer living in St. Louis. MO. She is the author of 10 books on a variety of "mind, body, spirit" topics.