Breast Cancer Backstory: Komen's Decison to Cut Planned Parenthood Funding
Update: The Komen Foundation has reversed its decision to pull breast cancer screening funding from Planned Parenthood.
I almost spit out my coffee when I read Washington Post health policy reporter Sarah Kliff's tweet today:
Notable? That's an understatement, not to mention a local story in almost any community. How will Planned Parenthood affiliates in your community be affected? How do your local Planned Parenthood clinics help patients get breast cancer screenings or treatment – a matter of some controversy? Will women in your area have less access to low-cost or free mammograms – or are there other existing programs that can help? Here's a list of Planned Parenthood affiliates to get you started.
Here's how the AP's David Crary started his story:
The nation's leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates – creating a bitter rift, linked to the abortion debate, between two iconic organizations that have assisted millions of women.
The change will mean a cutoff of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, mainly for breast exams.
Predictably, both sides of the abortion debate had plenty to say about Komen's decision. Planned Parenthood said Komen caved under pressure from anti-abortion groups, while some pro-life bloggers praised the decision. Komen maintains that it has cut off funding because Planned Parenthood is the subject of a congressional investigation.
Writing in Slate, Amanda Marcotte reflected the dismay of many pro-choice advocates:
Anti-choicers have tried to create a rift between women's health advocates who focus on breast cancer and those who focus on reproductive health concerns below the waist. Today, they had a victory with Komen's act of cowardice.
Kliff tweeted that Komen's decision is likely more significant than the Republican push in the Republican U.S. Representatives to defund Planned Parenthood, which so far have been blocked. She quickly pulled together an impressive analysis, concluding:
In some ways, the Komen decision isn't particularly surprising. The group has been under pressure from anti-abortion rights groups not to fund Planned Parenthood. It also hired a vice president last year who had previously advocated for the group's defunding in her run for Georgia governor. With a congressional investigation underway, Komen pulled its support. And when private institutions move to cut off Planned Parenthood's funding there's not much Democrats can do. The only possible backstop here might be pressure from Planned Parenthood supporters pushing back in the opposite direction.