31 January 2012

When politics trump health care

Seriously, this is bullshit:

Susan Komen Foundation halts grants to Planned Parenthood

NEW YORK – The nation's leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its financial partnerships with numerous Planned Parenthood affiliates. 
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 result is a bitter rift, linked to the national abortion debate, between two iconic organizations that have assisted millions of women. 
Planned Parenthood says the cutoff, affecting grants for breast exams, results from Komen bowing to pressure from anti-abortion groups. 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 activists. 
The Komen grants, which totaled about $680,000 last year and $580,000 in 2010, went to at least 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates for breast-cancer screening and related services. Planned Parenthood hopes to raise new funds to fill the gap.

Planned Parenthood used these grants to fund 130,000 breast exams and 6,500 mammograms.

As usual, the so-called "Christian" right puts their ideology and politics above actual women's health, whether it's blocking the HPV vaccine or forcing women to undergo unnecessary medical procedures.

For the record, the pretext for this decision is fairly thin; Komen has a policy which prohibits funding of any organizations under congressional investigation. Congress is investigating Planned Parenthood. Ipso facto, case closed, not at all political, right?

However, according to the Washington Post, this is a new policy, adopted after Komen hired conservative Georgia politician and failed gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel as their senior Vice President of Public Policy. Handel, who is pro-life, ran for governor on a pledge to defund Planned Parenthood if elected. No other organizations have been similarly affected at this point. It is also worth noting that the "investigation" which triggered the termination of the partnership is nothing more than a partisan fishing expedition led by pro-life government oversight chairman, Daryl Issa.

There's nothing wrong with any of that: Komen is a private organization and they have the right to follow any ideological agenda they choose. But don't believe any apologists who may claim that this was not driven by politics or a pro-life agenda.

Still, it's disturbing and disgusting to see a formerly reputable organization dedicated to women's health become co-opted by the christian right.

The founder and chairperson of the Komen Foundation is Nancy Brinker, whose email address, I am told, is nbrinker@komen.org, and Elizabeth Thompson is the CEO, reachable at ethompson@komen.org. I have reached out to both of them and politely expressed my concern about this politicization of their organization.

For my part, I will no longer support any Susan Komen Foundation activities or fundraisers so long as this situation persists. Frankly, there are plenty of other organizations doing great work for women's health in general and cancer in particular:

The American Cancer Society
The St Baldrick's Foundation
and, of course, Planned Parenthood itself.

I'll be directing my dollars and charitable efforts there instead.


  1. Unfortunate. I would have preferred they donated the money with maybe a stipulation has to how it would be used. That would not have appeased their pro-life supporters, though. Hopefully they'll reinstate the funding once the flimsy excuse is removed.

  2. Terrible policy by the Foundation. Thanks for bringing it to readers' attention. Caving in to the religious right is shameful.

  3. I remember when United Way defunded Planned Parenthood when I worked for Boeing. Contributions to UW dropped significantly. I hope the same thing happens to Komen. I'm done with them. PP does so much good for low income women, and Komen does this? Done! I'm done!

  4. Hmm.

    Komen is associated with the treatment and cure of breast cancer.

    Imagine the feeling of someone who has given to Komen finding out their donation isn't going to treating cancer or finding a cure for same, but is going to another organization, no matter their charter.

    I think this makes a lot of sense from the corporate/image/fundraising aspect. You seem very emotionally involved with money given to them that was, potentially, collected under false pretenses.

    So, nothing to see here. I'll bet money Komen sees no financial backlash from this (and they get to 'keep' a lot of money they used to give away).

  5. Allen, the problem with your logic is that the article itself says, " Planned Parenthood used these grants to fund 130,000 breast exams and 6,500 mammograms." How can we find or treat breast cancer if women's access to affordable breast exams and mammograms is cut? I think that funding was completely "in line" with Komen's mission. I don't see any false pretenses there.

    I an very troubled by Komen's actions and they have lost my support a long as these policies are in place. What a shame.

  6. If you want your money to go to Planned Parenthood, then don't donate to Komen. Skip the middleman (and their cut for administrative costs) and donate directly to Planned Parenthood. That's what I've done.

    If you want to support breast cancer research, there are other organizations that will do so without the anti-abortion slant.

  7. Surprising they would do this. I'm curious though if they actually cut off women that were getting breast exams there or if they redirected the money and still provide access to the same service, just at another location? If they are just saying that low income women can get their exams at a different address, it's not that big a deal really. If they are no longer doing anything to fund breast exams and mammograms for low income women that's huge.

    The important thing here is that the service gets delivered, not where. If they can deliver the care in a way that fewer of their doners find controversial they will get more donations and deliver more service. I'd call that a good thing.

    I think many people commenting on this around the 'net are putting their politics ahead of the far more important issue of delivering these very important services.

    Me, I don't care if the service is delivered at Planned Parenthood or the local Cathedral, as long as it's getting delivered.

  8. Yay St. Baldrick's! I shaved 24 inches of hair off my head for them last year.

  9. thethingspatientssay: The agreements between Komen and PP specifically laid out that money from Komen could ONLY be used to fund breast cancer screenings, and there were audits/inquiries to insure that was the case. There was ZERO possibility the money from Komen funded abortions. Abortions counted for only 3% of PP's total medical assistance. This is flat out some baby-back bull$#!& from the religious right, who just want to end Planned Parenthood, no matter the tremendous amount of good they do.

  10. There is another reason that money from the foundation would not be going to abortions.

    No donated money goes to doing abortions, on the contrary abortions are a money maker. About 15% of their money comes from doing abortions, about $164 million a year.

    Doing abortions pays for some of their other services.

    Source: http://mediamatters.org/research/201102180003

  11. Nice rant, except the problem is that Planned parenthood does not actually do Mammograms like they claim. Since they don't provide the service for which the Susan G. Komen foundation was providing the money, there doesn't seem to be much choice in providing the money, now does there?

    If Federal $$ are being used to fund planned Parenthood, then how do you justify using taxpayer money to fund a practice that a significant portion of the taxpayers find ethically, morally and socially reprehensible? Get Planned Parenthood out of the abortion business and let it do all the groovy things you claim it does.


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