Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the country’s best-known and best-funded breast cancer organization. Known for it’s iconic pink ribbon and annual Race for the Cure event, the organization has invested nearly $2 billion in cancer education and research since its founding in 1982.
But today, bowing to political pressure, Komen for the Cure announced that it is severing its partnership with Planned Parenthood and will stop providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants that allow their centers to perform breast exams on women who could not otherwise get them.
Since anti-abortion activists and their Republican allies ratcheted up their crusade against Planned Parenthood last year, they’ve targeted any and all allies of the organization to try to make inroads, including the cancer charity. Planned Parenthood provides birth control, STD testing, and cancer screenings to low-income women.
In a press release Planned Parenthood said it was deeply saddened and disappointed by the decision:
Planned Parenthood Federation of America today expressed deep disappointment in response to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation’s decision to stop funding breast cancer prevention, screenings and education at Planned Parenthood health centers. Anti-choice groups in America have repeatedly threatened the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation for partnering with Planned Parenthood to provide these lifesaving cancer screenings and news articles suggest that the Komen Foundation ultimately succumbed to these pressures.
“We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure. Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
In the last few weeks, the Komen Foundation has begun notifying local Planned Parenthood programs that their breast cancer initiatives will not be eligible for new grants (beyond existing agreements or plans).
Komen’s pretext for ending the alliance is the spurious congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood led by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL). Democrats say the far-reaching investigation is a political witch hunt and abuse of government resources.
Komen’s new Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Karen Handel, not only has a long anti-choice history, but pledged to eliminate grants for Planned Parenthood to provide breast and cervical cancer screenings when she ran for governor of Georgia in 2010.
According to Planned Parenthood, in the past five years support from Susan G. Komen allowed their health centers to provide nearly 170,000 breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals. The charity’s decision has succeeded only in depriving low-income women of cancer screenings that could save their lives — a move that flies in the face of Komen’s mission.