Yesterday the news broke that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation had decided to pull its funding from Planned Parenthood, effectively ending Komen-supported breast exams and mammograms, primary tools in detecting breast cancer early, and, in so doing, saving lives. People are outraged, not least for the reasoning given for cutting the funding: Planned Parenthood is under a Congressional investigation launched by Florida Republican Cliff Stearns over reports that public money was spent improperly on abortions. What do abortions have to do with mammograms?
Komen Foundation spokeswoman Leslie Aun said that "the main factor in the decision was a new rule adopted by Komen that prohibits grants to organizations being investigated by local, state or federal authorities," which, thanks to Stearns, has disqualified Planned Parenthood from receiving funding. But this also coincides with Komen's appointment of Georgia Republican and "anti-choice activist" Karen Handel as SVP last year, which seems evidence to some of a thinly veiled move to undermine reproductive rights for women, particularly the right to an abortion. If breast cancer screenings have become the fall guy for supposedly "abortion-happy clinics," what are women faced with dying of breast cancer supposed to do?
Via The New York Times:
After the A.P. article was posted on Tuesday afternoon, the Komen foundation declined to make Ms. Aun or another staff member available to discuss the Planned Parenthood decision. The foundation issued a statement saying it was seeking to “strengthen our grants program” and had “implemented more stringent eligibility and performance criteria.”
The statement added, “While it is regrettable when changes in priorities and policies affect any of our grantees, such as a longstanding 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.”
This is particularly damning because, as Nicholas Jackson writes, "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."
Yep, the women who will be hurt most by this decision are those who'd have difficulty getting health services without the help of Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood, for their part, says that this is all about politics: “We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure. Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. They've launched a Breast Health Emergency Fund to offset the support that support that 19 local Planned Parenthood programs will lose.
Add all this to the ever-developing definition of "helping women."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.