Why Did Susan G. Komen for the Cure Defund Planned Parenthood?

If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter lately (and don’t even try to tell me you haven’t been), then you’ve heard about the controversial decision made by Susan G. Komen for the Cure to defund Planned Parenthood. The Komen Foundation – the nation’s largest breast cancer charity – had a longstanding partnership with Planned Parenthood, providing funds for cancer screenings and education for low-income women.
Planned Parenthood reports that their grants from the Komen Foundation totaled about $680,000 last year and $580,000 the year before. Over the past five years, Planned Parenthood centers have performed over four million breast exams, and roughly 170,000 of those were made possible by Komen grants.
The loss of this funding under any circumstances would be devastating. Planned Parenthood provides reproductive and sexual healthcare, information and education to almost five million men, women and teenagers every year. One in five American women has visited a Planned Parenthood health center at least once in her life. And Planned Parenthood is the only reproductive and sexual health resource for thousands of low-income women and women who live in rural and under-served areas.
Cancer screenings are among the most important services provided by Planned Parenthood. Doctors visits and tests for cervical and breast cancer are very expensive, particularly for someone without health insurance. If Planned Parenthood is unable to replace the Komen funds, their low-cost, accessible screening services will be placed at a serious risk.
But even more disappointing are the reasons behind Komen for the Cure’s decision. The Komen Foundation has long been under pressure from anti-abortion groups to end its relationship with Planned Parenthood. So why have they suddenly made the decision to cut ties? Apparently, Komen for the Cure has a new rule that prevents them from funding organizations that are under investigation by the government. So why is Planned Parenthood being investigated? Because after receiving pressure from an anti-abortion group, a Republican lawmaker launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s spending practices. The aim is to determine whether or not the organization uses government money to fund abortions.
This all stems from the House of Representatives’ vote last year to defund Planned Parenthood, because of its role as a provider of abortion services. But Planned Parenthood uses its government money to fund preventative services and education, not abortions. In fact, 90% of Planned Parenthood’s services have nothing to do with abortion. The measure to defund Planned Parenthood was later blocked by President Obama and Democrats in the Senate.
Many people also suspect that Komen for the Cure’s decision has to do with its new Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Karen Handel. Handel is a former politician, who ran for governor of Georgia in 2010. Part of Handel’s platform was a promise to end funding for Planned Parenthood, including breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Since the announcement, the Komen Foundation has made statements insisting that their decision was not political. No one’s buying it. This article from Jezebel features just a few of the over 1,000 Facebook comments attacking Komen for the Cure’s decision.
It took me a long time to even figure out what to say about all of this. It’s ridiculous. And absolutely devastating. Funding Planned Parenthood does NOT equate to funding abortions. Komen’s funds were not being used provide or promote abortions in any way. They were being used to provide cancer screenings to women who wouldn’t have access to them otherwise. Cancer doesn’t care about politics. It affects people whether they’re pro-choice, pro-life, anywhere, or nowhere within the political spectrum. Cancer is not something that should ever, ever get caught up in politics.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure says that their vision is “a world without breast cancer.” If that were truly their goal, then one of their top priorities would be to fund organizations like Planned Parenthood that aid under-served communities. And they wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of helping women get access to the health services they need.
Garnet is a student at Columbia University in New York City. She is “that person” who starts dancing at a party when everyone else is standing around, and if there were a Facebook stalking Olympics, she would be a gold medalist. She also has a love for cheesy 90s music, and almost died of happiness when Vanilla Ice tweeted at her. Once. Follow her on Twitter @garnethenderson.

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