This past summer, I participated in the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation overnight walk in Chicago. I wasn’t a walker; all I did was volunteer a few hours to pass out water bottles to the crowd as they crossed the finish line. It was still moving, to say the least.
Hundreds of people – husbands, sons, daughters, parents, friends – were waiting for the “Race for the Cure” participants, teary-eyed and proud of their loved one and the miles and hours they spent on their feet.
No one close to me has breast cancer, but being there on that hot summer afternoon, it was clear what that walk meant to every- one involved. But that vision is something the Susan G. Komen Foundation seems to have forgotten.
Last year, the Komen Foundation was called out for filing legal oppositions against lesser-known charities who also used the phrase “for the cure” in their names. Even worse, the foundation used donor money to shell out for legal fees.
Now, Komen has stopped its partnership with Planned Parenthood, cutting off hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money. That money, which totaled $680,000 in grants last year, went mostly to breast cancer screening.
According to an article from NPR, Komen cut ties with Planned Parenthood because it is “the focus of an inquiry launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., seeking to determine whether public money was improperly spent on abortions.”
The Komen Foundation is the top breast cancer charity in the country. There is no reason it should succumb to political bul- lying. Planned Parenthood has historically been a controversial hotspot because it provides abortions in the U.S., but it is also a household name. It’s a name that women know and turn to when they are in need, just like the Komen Foundation. Aside from abortions, they provide sexually transmitted disease testing and cancer screening, and they relied on the Komen Foundation as a key partnership in protecting women.
And while Komen may have been criticized by anti-abortion groups since it partnered with Planned Parenthood in 2005, it has also done quite a bit of good. As the article reported, “Planned Parenthood. . . performed more than 4 million breast exams over the past five years, including near- ly 170,000 as a result of Komen grants.”
The Komen Foundation is not funding abortions. The fact that people are up in arms about them being affiliated with Planned Parenthood is unfortunate, consid- ering the hundreds of thousands of people who used the cancer screening services they funded. The bottom line is the screenings may save lives, and people can be anti-abortion without being anti-Planned Parenthood. When pettiness trumps protecting lives, there’s a serious problem. And the Komen Foundation should recognize that, and stand up to it.
Even if Komen funds breast cancer screenings elsewhere, Planned Parenthood is one of the biggest names in women’s sexual health. It was a smart partnership and taking it away undermines the heart of what both Planned Parenthood and Komen stand for.