Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Susan G. Komen Stops Grants to Planned Parenthood

Yesterday, Susan G. Komen announced that they will stop supporting Planned Parenthood. In the past, they have given approx. $700,000 to Planned Parenthood, helping provide nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals at Planned Parenthood centers across the nation. 

In the past five years, Planned Parenthood has provided more than 4 million clinical breast exams and 70,000 mammogram referrals, often helping low-income or uninsured women detect breast cancer in the earliest stages.

When I found out about this last night, I was outraged. I couldn't believe that the Susan G. Komen foundation would put politics ahead of women's lives. Luckily, I quickly learned from facebook and twitter that many others felt the same. Planned Parenthood and Komen were actually trending last night because there were so many people denouncing their actions. The Komen foundation's facebook page was also full of negative comments, although they seemed to be working overtime to delete them. I wrote a post telling them that their actions were shameful and that I wouldn't support them financially or attend any event sponsored by them until they re-fund Planned Parenthood. It received about 30 likes in the seconds before it was deleted.

Ironically, the Komen foundation just posted a study conducted by the CDC on their facebook page, which says that more work is needed to reduce the disparity of cancer screenings between white women and minority, low-income, and uninsured women.

And then they have the nerve to stop funding Planned Parenthood, the place where these minority, low-income, and uninsured women actually have access to cancer screenings?

That is shameful.

Today, Komen released a statement saying that their move wasn't political. But as Lori Stahl of the Washington Post writes, that is total bull shit. Her article is worth reading in its entirety, but I've copied some of the relevant info below:

The decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood comes shortly after Komen unveiled a new partnership that strengthens its ties to the George W. Bush Institute. The institute is the policy-making arm of Bush’s presidential library, which is scheduled to open in Dallas next year. The founding corporate sponsor [of this new initiative] is Merck, which is making a financial contribution of $3 million over three years.Merck, which manufactures the Gardasil vaccine, is a longtime campaign donor to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose ties to the company were briefly an issue during his failed presidential bid. 
Erin Gloria Ryan, of Jezebel, also calls Komen's statement bullshit. She writes:
Komen's absolutely a political organization, and one of their most recent political moves was to hire as it's Vice President of Communications one Karen Handel, a Sarah Palin-endorsed, rabidly anti-choice failed gubernatorial candidate from Georgia. Even though the services that Komen grants support at Planned Parenthood are breast exams for poor women, Handel was vocally in favor of defunding the organization as a candidate. In addition, Komen's founder Nancy Brinker was a major donor to George W. Bush.
If you think that the Susan G. Komen foundation shouldn't cave to extremists, or prioritize politics over women's lives, I encourage you to sign this petition. I also encourage you to send them an email letting them know that you're disappointed in their actions and that you will not financially support them until they re-fund Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood has also created a Breast Health Emergency fund. I encourage you to donate to it! Democratic Underground also suggests that when you donate, you request that a thank you note be sent to the Susan G. Komen foundation. That way, they'll know exactly how much money and support Planned Parenthood is getting.

And while we're talking about the Susan G. Komen foundation, I'm going to recommend that everyone read the New York Times article from October 2011 about the Pinking of America. The article suggests that the foundation is really kind of a marketing machine, and that it isn't actually doing that much with all the money they're getting. This upcoming movie (which I have not seen) also takes a critical look at the organization.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I have been wary of Komen for a long time because of corporate partnerships with companies that certainly contribute to breast cancer with pollutants and environmental deregulation, and I've been weirded out by the marketing machine of pinkpinkpink, but this is a much more clear cut issue in which Komen's priorities are impossible to ignore.

  2. You're Welcome! I think their move certainly shows their true colors, and has started a lot of conversation about the issues you bring up as well. Feministing did a post on some of the Komen things you could buy, and one of them was a perfume that had chemicals that are supposed to cause breast cancer! Another one was a pink gun. And then there is that whole issue of buying something instead of donating the money that would have gone toward that purchase. Philanthropic materialism? I know that is an issue you think and write about frequently!