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It would seem that “for a cure” only means so much to the Komen foundation. The board made the decision to remove, and later reinstate, grant money to Planned Parenthood.
The Komen foundation reportedly gave Planned Parenthood grants that totaled $680,000 last year and $580,000 the year before, according to the AP. This grant money was used to provide breast exams to women who use their services. Many women who use Planned Parenthood as a health clinic choose the organization because it provides affordable healthcare for people who otherwise could not receive it.
Planned Parenthood said the Komen foundation stopped funding because of pressure from pro-life supporters, according to the AP. Komen said the decision to pull funding had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with Planned Parenthood’s current investigation in Congress.
Planned Parenthood receives federal money, but these public funds may not be used to pay for abortion procedures, according to one Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns in Florida. This congressional inquiry is seeking to determine whether taxpayer money has been allocated improperly.
Nancy G. Brinker, the founder of Susan G. Komen for a Cure, said the organization has recently adopted bylaws that prohibit grants to be awarded to any organization under investigation by local, state or federal authorities, according to the LA Times. Critics claim the decision relates to Karen Handel, a pro-life activist and former Secretary of State in Georgia that was appointed to an influential position in the Komen foundation.
The media, public and even members of the Komen foundation condemned Brinker’s decision, and aligned themselves with Planned Parenthood. Within 24 hours, private donors pledged enough money to match the quantity that would have been granted by the Komen foundation, including $250,000 from Mayor Bloomberg of New York City.
It is notable that the Susan G. Komen foundation listened to the public, and has apologized, reinstating Planned Parenthood’s eligibility for grants, according to the New York Times. Karen Handel publicly resigned from her position at the Komen foundation, claiming she became a scapegoat for the decision, and that she disagrees with the decision to redeem grant eligibility.
It would seem that the Susan G. Komen for a Cure foundation recognized its mistake, repented, and is reaffirming its dedication to Planned Parenthood — so why does it still matter?
Somehow, the Komen foundation lost sight of its mission and made cancer political.
Cancer is a relentless disease that seizes its victims without regard for ethnicity, class, gender or socio-economics. Some victims are mothers. Some victims have had abortions. Some victims are gay. Some victims are fortunate enough to receive the highest quality treatment, receive early detection and have friends and family run marathons in their honor.
Others don’t find out until undergoing a routine healthcare visit at a local clinic.
By prioritizing the politics of abortion above the original mission to cure breast cancer, the Susan G. Komen for a Cure foundation acted in a way that said some women deserve treatment more than others. The action implied that women who use Planned Parenthood’s services are less deserving of treatment and support than women who don’t.
The Komen foundation undermined the value of women’s health.
Planned Parenthood is an organization that provides sexual health information to people who ask for it. It offers contraception, education, mammograms and yes, even abortions. It should be considered the cornerstone of every community because it helps local women stay protected, empowered and above all, healthy. For many women and girls, it is a space of non-judgment. It is a place where the most intimate areas of a woman’s body may be examined without embarrassment. Where she may discuss her sexuality with dignity.
It is likely true for many women that Planned Parenthood is the only place she can go when she first feels a lump in her breast. It is common knowledge among women nationwide that local clinics are places where the wellbeing of a woman comes first no matter what her political stance is on abortion.
When the Susan G. Komen for a Cure foundation removed their financial contributions to Planned Parenthood, they allowed the public to call into question their dedication to curing breast cancer. While the decision has been reversed, it has had serious implications for women everywhere, but it has also demonstrated the strength women have when standing united for a cure.
Contact CU Independent Contributor Sara Kassabian at Sara.firstname.lastname@example.org.