Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the leading fundraiser for breast cancer research in the country, will stop providing funds to the country’s leading abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, according to a Jan. 31 announcement.
Komen, famous for its “pink” campaigns to raise awareness about the risks of breast cancer and raise money for research, provided annual grants to support breast screening at various Planned Parenthood affiliates.
Last year, Komen adopted a policy against giving any funds to organizations currently under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. Planned Parenthood is under investigation on several fronts, most notably by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., chairman of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Stearns is conducting an investigation to determine if public funds were used to provide abortions.
Although the investigation initially was given as the primary cause of the decision, another factor is the restructuring of the Komen grant process. In a subsequent release, Komen stated that “we invested $93 million in community health programs, which included 700,000 mammograms. Additionally, we began an initiative to further strengthen our grants program to be even more outcomes-driven and to allow for even greater investments in programs that directly serve women. We also implemented more stringent eligibility and performance criteria to support these strategies.”
This means that Komen is abandoning pass-through grants, which simply awarded money to certain Planned Parenthood affiliates. They will now offer outcome-based grants in order to get money to the places providing the services. Planned Parenthood facilities are not equipped with mammography systems. They performed a breast exam, and then referred the patient to another facility.
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has claimed in the past that cutting funds to her organization would cause “millions” of women to go without mammograms. Last year, activist Lila Rose contacted 30 Planned Parenthood facilities in 27 states. Not one performed mammograms.
Nineteen Planned Parenthood affiliates received $680,000 last year to provide breast screenings for low-income women. Five grants from Komen to Planned Parenthood are still outstanding and under contract. Once these are paid, there will be no further grants, no matter the outcome of the investigations.
In its official statement, Komen said, “While it is regrettable when changes in priorities and policies affect any of our grantees, such as a long-standing partner like Planned Parenthood, we must continue to evolve to best meet the needs of the women we serve and most fully advance our mission. It is critical to underscore that the women we serve in communities remain our priority. We are working directly with Komen affiliates to ensure there is no interruption or gaps in services for women who need breast-health screening and services.”
In its 30-year existence, Komen has raised more than $2 billion to inform women of the risk of breast cancer, providing screenings for the disease and funding research into defeating it.
Ending a Controversial Partnership
Planned Parenthood blames pressure from pro-life advocates for the defunding.
Cecile Richards told The Associated Press, “It’s hard to understand how an organization with whom we share a mission of saving women’s lives could have bowed to this kind of bullying. It’s really hurtful.”
The organization is trying to stir up support on its site and is using the policy change to get abortion supporters to redirect donations from cancer research to Planned Parenthood.
“Planned Parenthood is not doing itself any favor by attacking Komen,” said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, “and I have to think that Komen is very unhappy with how their former friends are exploiting this decision for fundraising purposes.”
The link between Komen and Planned Parenthood had been a source of difficulty for many Catholics who wanted to support Komen’s efforts but didn’t want money going to Planned Parenthood. These issues were addressed last March in a letter by Komen’s chief scientific adviser, Dr. Eric Winer.
“While Komen affiliates provide funds to pay for screening, education and treatment programs in dozens of communities,” Winer wrote, “in some areas, the only place that poor, uninsured or under-insured women can receive these services are through programs run by Planned Parenthood. … As part of our financial arrangements, we monitor our grantees twice a year to be sure they are spending the money in line with our agreements, and we are assured that Planned Parenthood uses these funds only for breast-health education, screening and treatment programs. As long as there is a need for health care for these women, Komen affiliates will continue to fund the facilities that meet that need.”
Winer went on to cite a report from the Catholic Health Association, authored by Ron Hamel and Michael Panicola, which concluded: “The fact that some Komen affiliates, at times, provide funding to Planned Parenthood specifically and solely for breast-health services cannot on the face of it be construed as wrongdoing. The good that Komen does and the harm that would come to so many women if Komen ceased to exist or ceased to be funded would seem to be a sufficiently proportionate reason” for Catholics to continue support of Komen.
The Catholic Health Association, headed by Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, was a key player in the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which led directly to regulations that will force Catholic employers to pay for products and services that violate Catholic teaching.
As Judie Brown, president and co-founder of the American Life League, observes, “It is obvious that for every dollar Komen donates to Planned Parenthood, another dollar from another source is freed up to promote and perform abortion.”
There were also rumors that Komen funded human embryonic stem-cell research. This was never true. In a statement released on Nov. 30 last year, and noticed by few, Komen stated that they have “never funded human embryonic stem-cell research (H-ESCR), nor does Komen currently fund H-ESCR. Komen supports research on the isolation, derivation, production and testing of stem cells that are capable of producing all or almost all of the cell types of the developing body and may result in improved understanding of or treatments or breast cancer, but are derived without creating a human embryo or destroying a human embryo.”
Breast Cancer and Abortion
Janet Morana, executive director of Silent No More, an awareness campaign that highlights the long-term effects of abortion on women and men, said, “This is more than welcome news, especially to the post-abortive women of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign who are breast-cancer survivors. Of the 70 epidemiological studies that have been conducted worldwide since 1957, 80% report a risk increase of breast cancer for women who have had abortions. The Susan G. Komen foundation’s donations to Planned Parenthood were as nonsensical as would be the American Lung Association donating to a tobacco manufacturer.”
Komen is not persuaded by research suggesting there may be a link between abortion and breast cancer. Findings published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology showed that not only did breastfeeding reduce the risk of breast cancer, but that the highest reported risk factor was, in fact, abortion. An earlier study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center revealed “a statistically significant 40% increased risk for women who have abortions.” Studies from Turkey and China revealed 66% and 17% increases respectively. Other studies contradict these findings.
Komen has refused to issue warnings to women about the potential increased risk for breast cancer following an abortion, flatly stating that “research clearly shows no link between the two.” In their official statement on the subject, they claim that “scientific evidence from the most comprehensive and well-designed studies in the U.S. and around the world does not support the conclusion that induced abortion or miscarriage raises the risk of breast cancer.”
Register correspondent Thomas L. McDonald writes from Medford, New Jersey.