Thursday, February 2, 2012

Susan G. Komen Cuts Funding to Planned Parenthood: How Do They Decide which Life is Worth Saving?

I think it can get tricky when organizations, such as Susan G. Komen, which are meant to serve anyone and everyone and ultimately aim to prevent and cure a horrible health issue take a stand against another organization aiming to help the same people. Planned Parenthood provides high quality reproductive health care and age-appropriate sex education. Additionally, Planned Parenthood provides information on body image, birth control options, men's sexual health, sexually transmitted infections, and general health care needs. In fact, Planned Parenthood reports that only 3% of its services are abortion, while 16% takes the form of breast cancer screenings.

Susan G. Komen chose to cut funding to Planned Parenthood for breast health screenings. The divisive factor: pro-life/pro-choice positions.

The picture above has been circulating. And while I support the work Susan G. Komen does for individuals with breast cancer and believe the items they produce help in creating a sense of community, the picture is accurate in my mind. Why would an organization aiming to prevent and cure breast cancer cut funding to an organization that provides affordable health care screenings to so many people each year? Susan G. Komen has made a terrible mistake in my opinion. They have allowed politics to supersede their ultimate mission and goal. Planned Parenthood is the primary source of health care for women in low-income and underserved communities. The provide 830,000 breast exams each year. 170,000 (over the last 5 years) of these screenings and 6,400 mammogram referrals are funded through Susan G. Komen. The result of this cut in funding? More women are likely to go without breast screenings and mammograms. Regardless of your beliefs about abortion, it is essential we remember that Planned Parenthood serves MANY women in MANY different ways.  And, while perhaps the below picture is a bit blunt, I do find it strange that an organization supporting a pro-life stance, is ultimately taking away services that could save so many women.

More than ever, I encourage you to read THIS article. And, if you feel so inclined, please consider signing THIS petition and/or donating to your Planned Parenthood

As a note, several affiliates, one of which is Denver, have withdrawn their support for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. You can read about these HERE.

And, please take part in the poll below.

I'd like to leave you with this:


  1. What a sad day. The Komen Foundation has long been a vital force in women's health--particularly underserved and disenfranchised women--through their support of organizations that are direct resources, like Planned Parenthood, for this vulnerable population. Withdrawing funding, because a contingent of their supporters object to a service that makes up 3% of total services offered is, frankly (to quote an old adage)"throwing the baby out with the bathwater." I have a high respect for people who live their faith, but I have never believed that anyone of any faith has the right to dictate my faith principles. That is my right via God's gift of free will to each of us. And frankly, I'd like to find one of us who belongs to a church that hasn't itself stumbled and/or even fallen from its own principles. I know my home-church certainly has. Be that as it may, however, I believe that the Komen Foundation has declared a definite change of posture with this announcement; it has become a political player. So, as for me, my donations will now go directly to Planned Parenthood and other organizations that seek to treat ALL people. And here's something to consider: contraception is not abortion and it is not anti-life. What it is, however, is pro-responsibility. And in this time and place, that's most certainly needed.

  2. Below is a link to Nancy Brinker's response re: the cutting of funds by the Susan G. Komen Foundation to Planned Parenthood.

    I recognize that she is trying to explain what is happening. However, I find a number of her statements disheartening. For example, she says funds are going to be directed to "high impact organizations." I would argue Planned Parenthood is in fact a high impact organization. Perhaps not for women like her who have the funds and luxuries to go to primary care physicians, but to many women Planned Parenthood serves as an only option for reproductive health care. They do not know how to give a self-breast exam. They go for an annual exam, during which the provider at Planned Parenthood gives an exam. Additionally, she says the foundation wants funds to go to directly to those "to the provider that is actually providing the life-saving mammogram". How are women supposed to get to that stage of knowing they need a mammogram if they don't know they have a lump? Again, not all individuals have the knowledge or can afford alternatives. Mammograms are a luxury.

  3. Then it is important for us to spread the word that women can give themselves their own breast exam. It is actually better to learn how to perform it on yourself so that you can do it monthly. Everyone's breasts are different and a doctor will never know your breast as well as you do. Also, of the 800,000 breast exams Planned Parenthood does each year, only 34,000 are funded by Susan G. Komen. That's just 4.25%. So it's not like women aren't able to get the exams at Planned Parenthood. It doesn't affect a large population. I also wonder, doing a breast exam manually does not cost the doctor anything. So are the funds going to pay the doctor just as a service fee? Does that mean that between all of the Planned Parenthood staff, they are not able to give away 4% of the exams for free and not charge anyone? I would think if they cared about the women, they would offer some of the exams for free. It's only 4%. And there are a lot of alternative places women can go to get free healthcare. Planned Parenthood is only one small option of many.

  4. Lindsay, I agree that teaching women to give self exams is a great move to make. However, I still wonder what women should do if they do feel something different. What are the alternative places you speak of? Seventy-six percent of Planned Parenthood (PP) clients have incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. It would be great to know about them so that I can feature them on the blog in future entries. Finally, I do have to respectfully disagree with your statement that "Planned Parenthood is only one small option of many." PP is the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate. In 2010, PP provided care and options for nearly 5 million people worldwide. Ultimately, I support your statement that self exams should be further taught. However, we need people to teach and for many, PP provides this service. Additionally, while you suggest the funds from the Susan G. Komen Foundation are only a small percentage, I don't see why it should matter. Why cut the number of screenings and referrals when we know breast cancer is so prevalent? How does cutting funds, of any amount, help? And, how can PP be responsible for providing "exams for free" given its non-profit status (noting it's separation from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund)?

  5. Komen has changed their minds: