Susan G. Komen Defunds, then Refunds Annual Support for Planned Parenthood

February 16, 2012

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With the rising costs of healthcare, many Americans turn to community health centers for important services at affordable prices. One of the nation’s leading centers for women’s health is Planned Parenthood, with nearly 800 health centers nationwide. Their outreach efforts help communities receive access to breast health education, breast screenings, and mammogram referrals, among other services. Their services reach disadvantaged women in underserved areas, often at whatever price the women can afford. As a result, the organization relies heavily on financial donations. Much upset occurred in the past weeks when the Susan B. Komen Foundation, a leading breast-cancer charity, announced their decision to defund grants to Planned Parenthood. Although this was determined in December, it was deferred to public announcement until Tuesday, January 31.

In a press release on the 31st, Planned Parenthood announced their disappointment in the Komen Foundation’s decision, and told of the Foundation’s impact over the past five years in funding, “nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams out of the more than four million clinical breast exams performed nationwide at Planned Parenthood health centers, as well as more than 6,400 mammogram referrals out of 70,000 mammogram referrals,”. They portrayed this decision as the Komen foundation “succumbing to political pressure”. Public support agreed with Planned Parenthood’s accusation, and brought up various Komen leaders’ histories and ties to anti-abortion groups. The issue gained much attention and strong public support for Planned Parenthood, which resulted in the establishment of Planned Parenthood’s Breast Health Emergency Fund. The organization received nearly $3 million in donations for its breast cancer programs in the days following Komen’s announcement. This strong show of support, and outcry from organizational leaders, government officials, and cancer survivors caused the Komen Foundation to rethink their decision—by Friday, February 3rd it was reversed. Nancy G. Brinker, who founded the Komen Foundation after her sister died of breast cancer, released a statement on behalf of the organization, apologizing to the American public for “recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives”.  The Komen Foundation hopes this decision does not stigmatize their organization, or cause their values to be questioned, and they insist that it had nothing to do with politics, or their view of Planned Parenthood’s role in birth control and abortion services. Some of the public may be satisfied with The Komen Foundation’s reversal, but many remain questioning Komen’s morals as an organization supposedly dedicated to health for all women.

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