Yesterday the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure announced that, in accordance with its new policies, it will no longer award grants to Planned Parenthood affiliates to conduct breast cancer screenings, education, and treatment. Anti-abortion groups have criticized and threatened the Susan G. Komen Foundation for providing approximately $600,000 annually to 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates for breast exams, screening, and education. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), stated, “We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure.”
Judy Norsigian, author of Our Bodies, Ourselves,, told NPR, “One of the things many women don’t understand is that the founder of Komen, Nancy Brinker, has had a long-standing and supportive relationship with the Bush family and with the Bush presidencies, with the Republican party and on many occasions has supported policies that most supporters of Komen probably wouldn’t approve of.” Moreover, The Atlantic reports that the decision was largely guided by Karen Handel, the new senior vice president of public policy for the Komen Foundation, who expressed her strongly anti-abortion views during her campaign for governor of Georgia.
“It’s tragic that the Susan Komen Foundation is politicizing breast cancer care by its decision to exclude the PPFA affiliates from funding for breast cancer exams, screenings, and education. We must stop making women’s health care a political football. Thankfully PPFA and its affiliates and supporters will not be intimidated and will continue its vitally needed breast health program and reproductive health services,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America has launched the Planned Parenthood Breast Health Fund to ensure that the nineteen Planned Parenthood clinics that previously received support from the Komen Foundation are not adversely affected by the Komen Foundation’s decision. Richards added, “Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count. While this is deeply disturbing and disappointing, we want to assure women who rely on Planned Parenthood for breast care that we’re still here for them, and we always will be. The new fund we’re launching to support these services will ensure that the Komen Foundation’s decision doesn’t jeopardize women’s health.”
According to Planned Parenthood, its clinics that have received funding from the Komen Foundation have provided approximately 170,000 breast exams and 64,000 mammogram referrals. Throughout the nation, Planned Parenthood clinics provide some 750,000 breast screenings per year. Planned Parenthood indicated in its statement that “more than 90 percent of Planned Parenthood health care is preventive, including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of STDs, breast health services, Pap tests, and sexual health education and information.”
The Atlantic 2/2/12; NPR 2/2/12; Statement of Planned Parenthood 2/1/12