Unapologetic progressive. Fearless activist. Plucky liberal.

The women’s health community was blindsided this week by the news that a former ally had turned its back on the women it purports to help. Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest nonprofit focused on breast cancer in the United States, has said it will pull grants totaling nearly $700,000 that go to breast cancer screenings and mammogram referrals from Planned Parenthood.


Anti-choice politics. It turns out Komen’s founder, Nancy G. Brinker, is a huge George W. Bush supporter, and a senior official, Karen Handel, campaigned for governor of Georgia as a fierce Planned Parenthood opponent. Supposedly Komen has a new rule about not donating to organizations that are under investigation by the U.S. government. The only reason anti-choice politicians want to investigate Planned Parenthood is because they claim federal money intended for the 97 percent of PP’s non-abortion-related services is fungible (i.e., a saintly taxpayer’s pure dollar intended for cancer screening could accidentally come into contact with a dirty whore’s abortion money).

This, despite the fact that money wasn’t being used for abortion. This, despite the fact there’s no link between abortion and breast cancer. This, despite the fact so many low-income women have nowhere but Planned Parenthood to go for breast health. This, despite the fact if you want to shun women who have abortions, you’ll be ignoring one-third of us.

How very “pro-life” to deny money for life-saving screenings.

I have not supported Komen in the past, as I’m not close with anyone who has struggled with breast cancer and been a fan of the foundation.* Honestly, I’m a little tired of facing “pink October” and seeing “save the tatas” paraphernalia. Shouldn’t we be focused on, I don’t know — saving women’s lives? I have no doubt choosing a mastectomy is gut-wrenching, but as high-profile cases such as Christina Applegate and Giuliana Rancic show, most women would rather lose their breasts than their lives. (For more of a great long read on this topic, check out Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Welcome to Cancerland.”)

asiangrrlMN adds:

The real issue I have with the Race for the Cure, though, and other charity events like it is that so little of their money goes to what they actually purport to be advocating.  In the case of the Komen Foundation, their express purpose is finding a cure for breast cancer.  Yet, according to their fund report from 2009, only 17% of the money they received/earned went to funding cancer research.  As the author in the aforementioned link notes, they did other worthwhile things with their money, but still.  17% for the actual cause of the charity?  In addition, also according to the link, the Komen Foundation is notorious for suing any charity, no matter how small, who has ‘for the cure’ in its name.  How is that effective use of donation money, really?

Komen representatives seemed unprepared for the backlash and refused to answer repeated questions from the press. Negative comments are being deleted from the Facebook page. A nonprofit PR expert explains this is how not to run a nonprofit in The Accidental Rebranding of Komen for the Cure.

I hope Komen does restore funding to Planned Parenthood, but for me, and a lot of other people, the damage is done. We have seen what Komen’s priorities are, and they don’t include women’s health care.

A line has been drawn in the sand. Do you stand with women and Planned Parenthood?

Or do you stand with radical ideology and Susan G. Komen for the Cure?

ETA: If you’ve previously donated to Komen and would like a list of alternatives, check out Five Ways to Support Women’s Health for All.

*This originally said I don’t know anyone personally who has had breast cancer. I have been corrected in the comments below.



Comments on: "Susan G. Komen for the Cure puts politics ahead of women’s health" (6)

  1. good for them..it is about time


    PP care for women..I don;t think so…don;t worry they make millions

  2. Komen’s own site says there’s no link between abortion and breast cancer. Also, check out this link for stories about how PP has helped women: http://plannedparenthoodsavedme.tumblr.com/

  3. Dren Asselmeier said:

    I wrote about this, too. It is so frustrating. It seems like political ideologies are getting in the way of everything. We can’t just teach science because people want to make it into a statement about religion. We can’t just work toward bettering women’s health because we have to make into a statement about reproductive rights. It’s like everyone needs to get out of the way of us actually doing things to make people healthier, smarter, and happier.

    Thanks for your thoughts, as always! :)


    • Thank you, too! If any good has come of this, it’s that people refused to let Komen do this quietly. Many are speaking up about how Planned Parenthood has saved them, which is awesome, but also a bit sad we have to defend our basic health care.

  4. Uncle Dave said:

    Hi Dear Molly; Just to let you know that you do know someone who has had breast cancer i.e Aunt Jan and Muriel. One never knows all about this terrible disease; It even affects men. You are right on as usual; many, many organizations end up using a very small percentage of their collections for the main purpose of the campaigns. Paul Newmen and the Salvation Army are a few of the exceptions. A crying shame to say the least. Isn’t it a shame that in our America has a part of the people that are very short of being and living the American way; that being generous and straight forward and helpful to others is not their purpose. Maybe we need to hold our leaders more accountable ! I think I have heard that before ! Keep up your good work !

    • Uncle Dave, thank you for the correction. I can’t believe I didn’t know breast cancer is one of the cancers Aunt Jan has fought. I had forgotten about Muriel, and your comment also reminded me of a relative on the other side of the family who has had breast cancer. I’ve changed that sentence. The one good thing about this debacle is people are more aware of how Komen spends its money. There are many regional groups, not just Planned Parenthood, which directly help with screenings and mammograms that people can donate to.

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