I Stand with Planned Parenthood

February 1, 2012

Pink ribbon

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 (source). Doing nearly 750,000 breast exams each year, and having a patient demographic with 76% having incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level, what about this goes against Komen’s mission to “save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all” and so on?

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, but I also don’t know if this is a common “guideline” for any entity, so it could be true.

I understand that some people think abortion is killing a person, and that it is probably the worst thing a woman can do, so I know that this is going to continue to be an issue. I can’t just expect that everyone feels the same way about things that 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 to be the receivers of 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 like Planned Parenthood, and has the same mission to provide preventative care to all.

As a final note, I can say that I learned some new things about Susan G. Komen for the Cure out of this news. Mainly that they look for other charities that use “for the cure” in their names, and attempt legal action in order to halt the charities from using that phrase. There is a HuffPo article about it here. You may want to sit down.

This article is also posted on We Are Skeptixx.