Planned Parenthood and Susan G. Komen, the Controversy: Part 1
If you watch any news media at all, or have a Facebook or Twitter account, you may have heard about the recent battle between two of the biggest woman's health organizations: Planned Parenthood and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
And if you haven’t heard . . . well, it’s time to get up to speed on what’s been happening.
Komen, which has provided enough funding to Planned Parenthood for 170,000 clinical breast exams and over 6,500 mammogram referrals, suddenly cut off Planned Parenthood from its funding at the end of January. Almost immediately, chaos ensued, comprised of conservative religious and anti-abortion groups siding with Komen, and pretty much everyone else siding with Planned Parenthood.
Many questions were raised over the abrupt decision. Was it something to do with politics? Women's health? Or was it fundraising issues?
While not entirely sure, I personally believe that it had more to do with politics than women's health or money. Whatever the case may be, Komen had a change of heart (once it realized it would lose the support of millions of Americans, no doubt) and decided to undo the decision.
In this two-piece article we will cover what may have triggered the decision by Komen to stop funding Planned Parenthood, the possible political motivators behind it, the social and political aftershock, and why Komen chose to reverse their decision after a very loud public outrage.
A Little Bit about Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood has long been associated with abortion, and its name even hints towards it. Because of this, it has developed a stigma that has proven hard to shake off. Anti-abortion groups and religious conservatives regularly petition and boycott Planned Parenthood due to its stance on abortion, and many Americans think that it is the organization's main service.
Right away we can safely assume that politics are behind this irrational thinking. I say “irrational” because there is data proving that only a measly three (3) percent of the services provided by Planned Parenthood across the entire country are abortion procedures. By comparison, 16 percent of the services are cancer screenings, and almost 40 percent of the services are devoted to contraception.
Despite this evidence, people choose to ignore it and continue to link Planned Parenthood with abortion.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation
This brings us to Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation (formerly known as The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and often referred to simply as “Komen”), which has funded over $2 billion worth of breast cancer research and preventative services since its inception in 1982. To better understand how the nonprofit organization runs, we must turn to its leadership.
A New (Republican) Leader at the Helm
In April 2011, a woman named Karen Handel became the new senior vice president for public policy. An interesting note about Handel is that in 2010, she was part of the Republican Party and ran for governor of Georgia, but ultimately lost. This crucial detail is important to know, because during her campaign she explicitly stated that she did not support the mission of Planned Parenthood, and swore to eliminate funding for breast cancer as well as cervical cancer screenings provided by Planned Parenthood . . . all in order to gain votes and popularity among the conservative voters.
Soon after Handel was hired, a new rule was created that allowed Komen to withdraw funding from any groups or organizations that were under federal, state or local investigation.
In part two, we will go over how this rule was used to target Planned Parenthood exclusively, and the aftermath of this women's health fiasco.