In a controversial move, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has severed ties with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a resource for many women for affordable breast-cancer screenings. While the Susan G. Komen Foundation says they had to stop funding Planned Parenthood because of new guidelines that prevent it from funding organizations under congressional investigation (which Planned Parenthood currently is), many sources believe it’s due to political pressure from pro-life organizations.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America said it will start a new “emergency fund” for its breast-cancer prevention programs after losing financial support from Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The group received about $680,000 for breast-cancer services from the Komen Foundation in 2011, the Associated Press reported.
“We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count.”
This past fall Planned Parenthood, an organization which also supports abortion rights and provides abortion services in addition to helping women identify breast cancer early, became the subject of an investigation launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Stearns, himself a pro-life advocate, and his subcommittee are investigating Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s use of federal funds and its compliance with federal guidelines concerning abortions.
An official statement on the Komen website said:
“Grant making decisions are not about politics—our priority is and always will be the women we serve. Making this issue political or leveraging it for fundraising purposes would be a disservice to women.”
While the Susan G. Komen Foundation has strongly denied these allegations, some are questioning their political ties since the appointment of their new Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Karen Handel. Handel was an outspoken advocate for the defunding of Planned Parenthood during her failed Georgia Governor run in 2010. As Handel wrote on her blog during the campaign:
“I will be a pro-life governor who will work tirelessly to promote a culture of life in Georgia…. I believe that each and every unborn child has inherent dignity, that every abortion is a tragedy, and that government has a role, along with the faith community, in encouraging women to choose life in even the most difficult of circumstances…. since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.”
The defunding of Planned Parenthood by the Susan G. Komen Foundation has not been taken lightly. Cynthia Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, a nonprofit advocacy group in Washington, says the strong feelings about defunding are warranted:
“I think it was cowardly of the Komen Foundation to stop its past practice of supporting breast examination, breast health services at Planned Parenthood affiliates,” she said. “I believe they did so due to pressure from the anti-abortion movement.”
As author Judy Blume said on Twitter: “Susan Komen would not give in to bullying or fear. Too bad the organization bearing her name did.”
What do you think of the defunding?