Editor's note: This is part of an occasional "Reads You Need" series featuring some of the diverse voices from our site and across the Web on the stories causing ripples throughout the news sphere.
Over the last two days, columnists, advocacy groups and editorial boards have had plenty to say about Tuesday's announcement that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation would stop sending funds to Planned Parenthood for breast exams.
The move by the breast cancer research group came after Congress in September began investigating whether Planned Parenthood, a prominent family planning organization, illegally used federal funds to provide abortions. The Komen foundation has indicated that because it adopted a new policy preventing it from giving money to groups that the government is investigating, it can't continue funding breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood.
"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," the foundation said on its Facebook page.
Some Planned Parenthood supporters have alleged the move is less about investigation and more about abortion. Anti-abortion advocates around the country had questioned the Komen foundation about its grants for months, prompting the foundation to release a statement last year saying that "Komen funding is used exclusively to provide breast cancer programs."
Planned Parenthood said funding from the Komen Foundation has largely paid for breast exams at local centers. In the last five years, grants from the group have directly supported 170,000 screenings, comprising about 4% of the total exams performed at Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide, according to the group.
At least one Komen affiliate might keep sending money, and Planned Parenthood says its fundraising has spiked since the national Komen foundation made its announcement.
Here are a few takes from around the country:
Komen attacks abortion rights
The Baltimore Sun's editorial board says Komen's decision puts "women's health at risk by denying breast cancer screening funds to Planned Parenthood on questionable grounds."
"Has Komen adopted an anti-abortion stance, too? Given the obvious political motivations behind the (congressional) investigation, it's hard not to see the decision as announcing that. According to Planned Parenthood, Komen is the first private organization to withdraw funding on the grounds of the congressional investigation. One can only assume that this outcome, if it stands, will motivate Congress to pursue all sorts of investigations against all sorts of controversial organizations.
That has to be greatly upsetting to many people who have participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure ... . Quite a few have probably written their share of checks to Planned Parenthood to not only support women's right to choose but basic family planning and cancer-screening services.
Breast cancer can strike anyone, including those who avail themselves of contraception. Shame on Komen for succumbing to pressure from anti-abortion groups and risking the health of the very women for whom they claim to advocate."
Thank Komen for decision
On the blog of anti-abortion group Bound4Life.com, which was among the groups pressuring Komen last year, the group's Susan Michelle says those who opposed Komen's funding of Planned Parenthood should now thank it for its decision.
"Though Komen says these public criticisms are not a factor in their choice to stop funding Planned Parenthood, it’s hard to believe that the pressure didn’t impact the decision. ... We should be vocal in thanking Komen for this decision."
Anti-abortion groups cheer Komen's move
USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman reports that other faith-based and anti-abortion groups are cheering Komen's decision.
"Planned Parenthood is a 'tarnished brand,' said Melinda Delahoyde, president of Care Net, a pregnancy support agency, who formerly headed educational outreach for Americans United for Life.
She cheered Komen's move to separate the relationship because, "Komen's mission is one that affects every woman... We fully endorse and applaud that mission." Delahoyde says the monies that once went to Planned Parenthood will move now to other groups and "women will continue to be helped."
At the core of religious groups' contention is that money is fungible.
Even if every cent donated by a church-sponsored walk or a Bible sale went to breast cancer screening, the argument went, that donation freed Planned Parenthood to spend more of the funds it raised – privately or from taxpayers – on abortion."
How will split affect women's health?
Time's Alice Park explores some of the possible women's-health consequences that could follow. She writes that although Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms, it does provide manual exams that are "an inexpensive way to screen for cancer and to educate and introduce women to the importance of screening." Additionally, she writes, Planned Parenthood refers "women to screening centers, pays for screening for women who cannot afford them, and then follows up with continued care in helping women interpret the tests and take appropriate actions based on their results."
"The loss of funding from Komen may disproportionately hurt those who need cancer screening the most. Some Planned Parenthood affiliates use the money to fund outreach programs to minority groups or to those who normally don’t have access to health care. Those programs now risk being terminated, if Planned Parenthood is not able to find additional funding to continue them.
The split may trigger other moves to withdraw funding — from both groups. Many critics of Komen’s decision are long-time supporters of the group, who gave in small but important ways, by fundraising in the group’s annual race for breast cancer research, for example. “My first 5K ever was for Susan G. Komen. Never will I raise money for this org again,” said one commenter, Jenna Marino, on Twitter. Many others expressed their displeasure on the Komen website; others advised people to donate directly to Planned Parenthood instead."
Decision politicizes breast cancer prevention
The Star-Ledger editorial board in New Jersey is no fan of Komen's decision.
"The Komen foundation put its stamp on breast cancer research with its pink ribbon campaign and other events, raising funds and consciousness about the disease. It created a community of women and men with a single goal: to find a cure. Breast cancer strikes everyone, no matter your race, ethnicity or political affiliation.
Now that sense of unity has evaporated. People are taking sides. Many who once supported Komen say they’ll take their donations elsewhere and plan to drop out of other Komen activities."