So this is an unfortunate way to end Cervical Awareness Month: the Dallas-based Susan G. Komen Foundation, which raises money to fight breast cancer, announced today it will stop its funding to Planned Parenthood for breast exams.
That's really smart, Komen Foundation! Denying low-income women breast exams through defunding Planned Parenthood will totally help win the fight against breast cancer. OMG why didn't someone think of this sooner!
Last year, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which is the largest and most well-known breast cancer advocacy group, funded 170,000 breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals provided by Planned Parenthood. As we noted earlier today, Planned Parenthood performed almost 750,000 breast cancer screenings in 2010.
Apparently the Komen foundation has adopted a new rule that prevents it from providing grants to organizations that are under investigation by state, local, or federal authorities. A conservative Republican Congressman, Cliff Stearns of Florida, recently launched a probe to determine if money was improperly used for abortions. It's a b.s. accusation designed to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving funding, one which will in turn imperil the health of thousands of women.
Planned Parenthood claims that the Komen foundation is caving in to pressure from anti-abortion activists.Clearly these anti-abortion activists would rather see more women die of breast cancer than if that's what it takes to stop women from exercising their right to choose.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told the Associated Press, “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. It's really hurtful.”
It sounds like the Komen foundation was fairly rude in how they dealt with Richards and Planned Parenthood. From the Statesman:
Richards said she was informed via a phone call from Komen's president, Elizabeth Thompson, in December.
“It was incredibly surprising,” Richards said. “It wasn't even a conversation – it was an announcement.”
Richards subsequently sent a letter to Komen's top leaders – CEO Nancy Brinker and board chairman Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr. – requesting a meeting with the board and asserting that Komen had misrepresented Planned Parenthood's funding-eligibility status in some states.
According to Planned Parenthood, the Komen leaders replied to Richards with a brief letter ignoring the request for a meeting, defending the new grant criteria, and adding, “We understand the disappointment of any organization that is affected by these policy and strategy updates.”
This was a bad move on the Komen foundation's part. Planned Parenthood primarily provides women's health care — annual physicals and exams, pap smears, birth control prescriptions, and yes, breast exams and mammogram referrals. With this move, the Komen foundation isn't just denying support to Planned Parenthood — they're denying support to women. It's very shameful.
Want to do something? There's a range of Internet actions you can take.
- DailyKos has a quick letter you can fire off to the Susan G. Komen foundation: click here.
- There's an Act.ly petition calling on Komen to reverse their decision: click here.
Boo, Komen foundation! Boo!! Pro-choice women get breast cancer, too! Shame on you.