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Komen foundation reverses Planned Parenthood decision

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
breast cancer, abortion, Komen foundation, Planned Parenthood

DALLAS-TX - On February 3, The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation reversed its decision to cease funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening and education programs. According to the foundation, the cutoff was a result of the charity's newly-adopted criteria barring grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state, or federal authorities. Planned Parenthood is currently the subject of an investigation regarding how spends and reports its funds. The February 3 statement began with an apology: “We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.” It also noted that the foundation would amend its criteria to “make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”

The situation has brought to the forefront the issue of abortion, which is Planned Parenthood’s major function. The organization also provides contraception advice and services. Referrals are also provided for women in need of a mammogram. In 2011, Planned Parenthood received nearly $700,000 from the Komen foundation and has been receiving similar grants since at least 2005. Opponents to abortion have expressed concern that donations to the Komen foundation, which are sent on to Planned Parenthood might fund abortions rather than breast cancer services.

When the defunding announcement was made, Planned Parenthood asserted that the Komen Foundation had succumbed to longstanding pressure from anti-abortion groups. When the apology was issued, Planned Parenthood responded that it was "enormously grateful" that the Komen foundation amended its funding rules and said it looked forward to continued close relationship with the group. It noted that Komen grants have helped fund 170,000 clinical breast exams and more than 6,400 mammogram referrals in the past five years.

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According to its 2010 annual report, Planned Parenthood clinics performed 329,445 abortions that year. It also noted that Planned Parenthood Clinics performed 747,607 breast examinations. No mention is made of how many mammogram referrals were made and to what degree the organization funded those referrals.

The Komen foundation, which is known for its pink ribbon symbol, was founded in 1982 by Susan G. Komen’s sister after Susan she succumbed to breast cancer. The organization has raised more than $1.9 billion since inception and has affiliates in more than 100 U.S. cities and 50 nations. It reports that it is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists. The foundation hosts events such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure®.

Source: Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation

Editorial Comment: This situation has obviously evoked heated rhetoric on both sides of the abortion issue. The Komen foundation is likely to lose funding from those opposed to abortion who express concern as to where these funds will be placed. In return for the funds given to Planned Parenthood, the foundation should receive assurance from Planned Parenthood that those funds should be directed solely for breast cancer diagnostic services.

See Also: Komen Foundation cuts off funding to Planned Parenthood