Who Is Behind Susan G. Komen's Split From Planned Parenthood?

The mysterious decision by the leading breast-cancer charity to stop funding the country's most prominent reproductive-health provider.

PlannedParenthood-Reuters-Post-thumb-615x300-64962.jpg

The nation's leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which has spent nearly $2 billion over the past 30 years for breast cancer education, health services, research, and advocacy, has announced that it will end its longtime partnership with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The announcement has sparked bitter debate among representatives from all concerned parties, highlighting the ongoing debate over abortion.

Planned Parenthood, currently the largest provider of reproductive health services in the United States, is widely known for helping women to obtain abortions and contraceptives. But those services, despite their high profile, account for only 38 percent (PDF) of the organization's work. And though Republicans often portray Planned Parenthood as strictly an abortion provider, using the phrase to incite anger among pro-life constituents and gain support for cuts to federal funding -- it comes largely through the Title X and Medicaid programs -- the fact is that the organization devotes most of its money and manpower to screening for breast, cervical, and testicular cancers; treating menopause; testing for sexually transmitted diseases; and more.

The money provided by Susan G. Komen for the Cure went to just a fraction -- about 19 according to one report -- of Planned Parenthood's more than 85 affiliates. And it was all -- roughly $680,000 last year and $580,000 the year before that -- used for breast-cancer screening and other breast-health services for low-income, uninsured, and under-insured women.

"It's hard to understand how an organization with whom we share a mission of saving women's lives could have bowed to this kind of bullying."

Komen has been criticized in the past for donating to Planned Parenthood and the official response has always been that, despite the controversy surrounding some of its programs, the organization was the only one working to provide breast-health services to women in need in dozens of communities around the United States.

So why the sudden change?

Cutting funds to Planned Parenthood is the result of a newly adopted policy to block grants to organizations currently under investigation by any local, state, or federal authorities, Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun told the Associated Press. A statement released Tuesday evening added: "While it is regrettable when changes in priorities and policies affect any of our grantees, such as a long-standing partner like Planned Parenthood, we must continue to evolve to best meet the needs of the women we serve and most fully advance our mission."

The key factor behind Komen's decision, Aun told the Associated Press, is not ongoing protests of Planned Parenthood -- the Alliance Defense Fund was quick to praise Komen "for seeing the contradiction between its lifesaving work and its relationship with an abortionist that has ended millions of lives" -- but an audit launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns, chairman of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, to determine whether public money had been spent on abortions over the last decade.

Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Health

Just In