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Defunding was wrong move for Komen foundation

Published: Thursday, February 2, 2012

Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2012 13:02

 

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation decided Tuesday to stop providing grants for breast cancer screenings to Planned Parenthood, some say due to pressure from anti-abortion groups. 

The decision affects 19 Planned Parenthood facilities and results in an annual loss of about $680,000, according to the New York Times. No matter what fueled the Komen foundation's decision, the biggest loss is a huge blow to low-income women that comes from an organization whose goal is to support women's health.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, described the decision from the world's largest breast cancer organization as "extremely discouraging news from a partner and longtime ally of women's health," in an email statement.

Annual donations from the past five years had funded nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and referrals for more than 6,400 mammograms, according to the statement. The program plans to make up the funds through donations from individuals so that it can continue providing screenings for low-income women.

Politics aside, the foundation's decision is a poor one for public safety. Planned Parenthood may no longer be able to provide breast cancer screenings in an affordable, recognizable and prevalent location as it has.

According to the Associated Press, Planned Parenthood believes that the Komen foundation was under pressure from what Richards called "bullying" from anti-abortion lobbyists.

Several pro-life and Christian groups placed Komen on their "boycott list" after the foundation partnered with Planned Parenthood.

The Komen foundation denies that any bullying was involved, arguing that the foundation has a new rule that prohibits awarding grant money to organizations that are under local, state or federal investigation. Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun told the AP that Planned Parenthood is being investigated by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) after a national anti-abortion group prompted him to determine whether Planned Parenthood used public money to fund abortions in September.

Regardless of the Komen foundation's reasoning, the decision will negatively impact not only women's health, but also the reputation of the Komen foundation. According to the AP, it was one of the most-Tweeted discussions Tuesday night and while some commenters on Twitter supported the move, most were angry. Rep. Michael Honda (D-Clif.) also issued a statement asking Komen to reconsider the decision, saying he was "stunned and saddened" by the decision to withdraw funding.

Whether the decision was made in response to pressure targeted directly at the Komen foundation or the investigation of Planned Parenthood, it is  regrettable when money issued for preventative health care is lost due to the politics of special interest groups.

The decision is contrary to the nation's movement toward a focus on preventative health care. Many adults without insurance, in particular college students, ordinarily have few options when it comes to cancer screenings. If donors continue to defund organizations like Planned Parenthood due to politics, more cancer could go undetected — an outcome that opposes the goal "for the cure."

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