In a supremely disappointing decision, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has decided to discontinue any and all ties to Planned Parenthood. The Komen Foundation is the nation’s leading fundraiser for breast cancer research, but they’re also a leading supporter of Planned Parenthood: According to NPR, their decision will effectively dry up hundreds of thousands of critical dollars for sexual and reproductive healthcare for women in need.
The foundation, which partners with just about everyone to raise millions for research, gives grants to organizations that help women get cancer screenings and care who otherwise couldn’t afford them. Planned Parenthood is just one of the organizations that Komen works with–but it’s also one of the biggest and most politicized.
There hasn’t been an official announcement, but many suspect the Komen Foundation has caved to anti-abortion supporters’ threats to withdraw donations if they continued to support Planned Parenthood. Of course, Komen’s support had nothing to do with abortions. According to a press release from Planned Parenthood:
Over the past five years, Komen funds have enabled Planned Parenthood health centers to provide nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and referrals for more than 6,400 mammograms. These cancer detection and prevention programs saved the lives of women who often had nowhere else to turn for care.
One of the biggest myths about Planned Parenthood is that it’s chiefly an abortion clinic. This is simply untrue. Abortions account for just 3% of what occurs at Planned Parenthood. The rest of the time, it operates as a necessary health conduit for uninsured, low-income, and impoverished women looking for basic female health care, including pap smears, annual exams, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and preventative contraceptive. It is a safe space for women who have been abused or who are currently in abusive relationships.
As a person with a.) no health care, and b.) a family history of breast cancer, I have relied on Planned Parenthood for my breast health, diligently going in for check-ups and breast exams each year since I was 18 years old. Should I ever have an abnormal exam, these are the services I would need, because I simply would not be able to afford them.
This is an extremely disappointing and myopic move on the part of the Komen Foundation, who, despite being responsible for a lot of less-than-awesome pinkwashing, have benefitted so, so many women. And it’s disappointing that women in need of low-cost or free health care will be forced to choose between the health of their breasts and the health of their uteruses.
Image: Susan G. Komen Foundation