February 1st, 2012
07:34 PM ET

Opinions fly after Komen drops Planned Parenthood

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."

iReport: 'Women should be in an uproar right now'

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."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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Filed under: Abortion • Health • Health Care • Politics • The Reads You Need
soundoff (1,014 Responses)
  1. ORLY?

    We must band together to protect women's health.

    We must refrain from allowing politics and rhetoric to muddy our view of what is important: each other.

    Care first, help second, politicize 45,349th. #meanpeoplesuque

    February 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. WTF

    No one denies that the Koman organization does good things...the Boy Scouts do good...the Salvation Army does good...or so I thought. I'm not supporting ANY organization that provides services to women, kids, or the down and out to promote a political or religious agenda as their primary focus. National fundraising without full disclosure of their true agenda of exclusion and divisiveness is at the very least immoral...its practically FRAUD when you read the Koman Org's website...they still want your money but they will not fess up to the real motivation behind their decision...took the easy road and deferred to the government's investigation of a totally unrelated matter as the reason...Its time these radical extremists figure out that folks aren't the easy marks the con-men and women think they are! Flood their email box with your opinion.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rose

    Wow I will no longer support the Komen cause and I will be encouraging all my friends to find another breast cancer charity. Now what will all the low income women do who go to them for mammograms etc... Shame on them!!!!!!

    February 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ntw

      Rose-planned parenthood does NOT perform mammograms. All those "low income women" will still have to go to a imaging center for their mammograms.

      February 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joe R.

    Let's face it: abortion is a political issue, and the country is relatively split on this topic (No, planned parenthood supporters, you are NOT in the vast majority even though you speak and act like it). If Komen continues to support Planned Parenthood (even it the monies don't go to abortions), Planned Parenthood is known for abortions, so it's going to be political either way.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • brewtownpsych

      Um, actually know the country isn't evenly split. It's 60% against having abortions, but 60-70% FOR the right to have them. It's safe and legal and this is clearly politically motivated and therefore dishonest when compared against the stated reasons. Anyway, abortions are the tiniest fraction of what they do. What else they do? well, if you call yourself a fiscal conservative you should be interested because by some estimates the tiny amount taxpayers spend to fund planned parenthood earns about 100 times on the dollar in reduced tax costs for the social problems that follow not getting proper preventive care. Man oh man people.

      February 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nothing new here

    Komen is nothing more than a big money-making business. 10% of their profits go to research – but appoximately 30% is used for administrative costs and overhead.
    The CEO of this company, and other execs, make impressive salaries. And Komen has the support of BIG PHARM and lobbyists.
    This organization has lost it's way.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nothing new here

    Komen is nothing more than a big money-making business. 10% of their profits go to research – but appoximately 30% is used for administrative costs and overhead.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. IagreewithKomen

    Let's see if the Congressional investigation finds that PP was illegally funding abortions. If they clean up their funding controls, then it seems reasonable that SGK could decide to restore funding only for breast exams. What's the complication? If SGK doesn't want to support abortions. That is still their decision. I don't think most women ran a 5k or walked 3 days for an organization that funds abortions. It was their personal experience or a friend or family member that had breast cancer that was their motivation. Maybe PP could start a 5k for abortions and see how that flies. Give me a break.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • frog21

      A donor can restrict his or her gift to an organization, limiting its use to a program or need that most appeals to them. If Komen wanted to make sure its grants to Planned Parenthood were specifically used for cancer screening and NOT abortion, they could easily have done so. In fact, I suspect they already did. This is simply an ugly move to politicize a very small portion of the actual work that Planned Parenthood actually performs.

      February 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nothing new here

    Komen spends $$$$ on frivolous lawsuits – protecting their brand name is more important.
    Money talks – everything else walks, including helping poor women in need.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Karen

    Not one more thin dime, Komen. Godbye.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. nothing new here

    Komen is seeing an uptick in donations – for the moment.
    But Komen has also dug it's own grave. More and more people are seeing this "non-prof" for the farce that it really is. Komen is just another non-profit that is making profits.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. nothing new here

    I think it is time for non-profits, as well as churches, to start paying taxes, just like the average American citizens are forced to do.
    Wanna play politics?
    Then pay up:)

    February 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Terry G

    Gave them $500 a year, every year. No more!

    February 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. countrycook

    Planned Parenthood is the place you go to PLAN to kill your little baby.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • frog21

      Or PLAN to kill your little breast tumor before it turns into a larger one.

      February 2, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. trace

    99 % at it again, what a surprise.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. trace

    plann parents does a lot more than abortions, be for real.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
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