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Komen Fights More than just Cancer

As the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation steps deeper and deeper into a steaming pile of its own bullsh*t, consider that all of this is a very calculated political move. What this is is a grave betrayal of Komen’s mission statement:

OUR PROMISE: To save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find the cures.

Planned Parenthood is under attack from the right because it has the audacity to provide clinical medical services exclusively to women. Most of Planned Parenthood’s mission has to do with reproductive health and services, and yes, 3% of what they do involves abortion services. Because it performs legal, safe abortions in a clinical setting, and because the Republican platform prefers that abortions be done like they were in the old days – by quacks with hangers in alleyways, or abroad – Planned Parenthood must be destroyed.

But Komen and its former funding of PP had nothing whatsoever to do with abortions or even contraception. That’s how we know this is not principled, but political. How is Komen empowering people or saving lives if it de-funds breast exam and mammography services at Planned Parenthood?  The Angry Black Lady sums it up nicely: 

In a press release today, Planned Parenthood announced that The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation will no longer provide Planned Parenthood the more than half million dollars in grant funds which Planned Parenthood uses to provide breast health education, screenings, and referrals for mammograms.

Turns out that Komen’s new Vice-President of Public Policy, Karen Handel, is a Forced Birther, and even ran for governor of Georgia on a platform of defunding Planned Parenthood.  Thus, it seems that Komen for the Cure, the purpose of which is to help women, has been taken hostage by Karen Handel and her right-wing Forced Birth views which undermine women and women’s reproductive choices.  In her own words, “Since I am pro-life [anti-choice] I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.”

The mission of Planned Parenthood? Lady, what are you talking about? Themission of Planned Parenthood is to provide health services, including breast cancer screening and education to primarily poor women who otherwise cannot not afford such services.  That is 90% of what Planned Parenthood does. The “mission” of Planned Parenthood aligns with the “mission” of Komen for the Cure — or, at least, it did.  Abortion comprises approximately 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides.

Furthermore, just as the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funds from being used for abortion services, I presume that the Komen grant money previously provided to Planned Parenthood is used specifically for breast-health, and not for abortion.

This is part of the Republican effort to do to Planned Parenthood what they did to ACORN – destroy any foundation that exists to help the poor obtain some sort of services or rights. Exactly correct. When Komen isn’t busy pimping out the color pink, advocating against legislation to provide free breast and cervical cancer screening, and trademarking, then aggressively litigating any use of the term “for the cure”, it’s plotting to disassociate itself from Planned Parenthood for nakedly political reasons.

Komen’s official line on the reason for cutting off funds to Planned Parenthood was a newly-instituted rule that declared that the organization was not to give funds to organizations under investigation at the local, state, or federal level. According to Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic, former employees of Komen told him that the rule was, in fact, designed to single out Planned Parenthood.

If the new policy is to de-fund organizations that are under some form of investigation, then we ought to all eagerly await the imminent withdrawal of Komen’s $7.5 million for the health clinic at Penn State – an institution that is under administrative investigation arising out of charges of child rape. Komen’s new Vice President in charge of Public Policy is right-wing anti-Planned Parenthood activist Karen Handel, who re-tweeted (then quickly deleted) this:

The backlash has been swift and pointed. People are abandoning Komen in droves, and Planned Parenthood has already more than made up the lost funding through donations. 

There are thousands of national, regional, and local anti-cancer charities out there, but there’s only one Planned Parenthood. If you divest your women’s health organization from providing cancer screening for the poor and the underprivileged, you risk painting yourself unnecessarily into a political corner.  Komen may now become a sweetheart of the right-wing, but it will have long ago stopped fulfilling its mission. 

Komen isn’t so much a charity as it is a business, and it’s now firmly positioned itself as a business that’s right-wing-friendly and a footsoldier in the culture war. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate based on race, political affiliation, or voting history. That’s why Komen politicizing itself so blatantly is so shockingly sad and unnecessary. 


  • Minor correction: PP provides health services to men, including STD testing, colon cancer screening, etc.

    http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/men-4285.htm

  • I’m looking forward to an alternative fundraising event — Tour for the Pure? ( as in, untainted by wingnut politics) — to support breast cancer research and support victims of the disease. I’ll be there with my running shoes on.

    Pink and white striped ribbons–?

  • wayne

    Hoping this movie will make it more national now. Examines the business of Komen.

    http://www.care2.com/causes/pink-ribbons-inc-a-devastating-new-film-on-komen-breast-cancer-and-pink.html

  • Eric

    I didn’t know that Komen for a cure funded abortion. To think of all the money that went to murder innocent babies……. I will never donate to them again.

  • Max

    Reading the prior comment, it’s evident the anti-choice forces have done a masterful job of planting the perception that PP is solely a abortion services provider. Nothing could be further from the truth;PP has been a leader in providing a wide range of women’s reproductive heath services – examinations and disease prevention counseling – to thousands of women who otherwise wouldn’t have received them. I have a friend whose daughter who was diagnosed with cervical cancer that was identified enough in advance to treat the condition. The examination was provided by PP. Komen’s withdrawal of support is a all too frequent and sinister example of an organization’s mission being hijacked by narrow, self-serving interests.

  • Marie

    @Eric
    Actually, Komen doesn’t have to fund abortions at Planned Parenthood. When you grant money, you can stipulate the services for which that money is used, and in that stipulation, can expressly forbid use of funds for services as well. Do your homework.

  • Ray

    No point arguing with them. They can just say “That was not intended as a factual statement” and then claim to have never said what they said.

    There’s been a reversal of the announcement from the other day, but there’s also speculation on how effective it will be, since they’ve only committed to restoring previously-granted funding. It’s also come out that Ari “Americans Need To Watch What They Say” Fleischer was involved in the latest round of Komen hiring, and that he made their minimal PP involvement out to be a BIG issue.

  • Allen Miller

    There are people in this country that believe that abortion is just plain wrong. The policies of abortion rights activists are insane. Political action opposing it is just a fact and will not stop regardless of what anyone thinks or says.

    During the Affordable care act i.e. Obama Care a big fight was over abortion being paid for with tax dollars. At the last minute to get Pro Life democrats on board (talk about a lack of diversity there are no more pro life democrats) Obama issued an executive order (worthless as the paper it was written on) that was suppose to fool people. Dan Maffei looked me in the eye and had the audacity to tell me Abortions were not in the bill. (we voted him out, I worked hard to make that happen). Just last week after giving thousands of exemptions the Obama administration chosen to ignore the First Amendment and force catholic charity health organizations to provide abortion contraception. What you don’t think that will cause political opposition among Catholics? Except maybe for the group Catholics for choice which are as crazy as atheists for Jesus. Komen may have backed down for whatever reason it was theirs, they do a lot of good work and I commend them. But there are many who will not back down.

  • Pink Ribbons Inc., the film mentioned above is playing here in Buffalo on February 23rd at the Market Arcade. See genderin.buffalo.edu/filmfest for more information.