Tuesday afternoon Planned Parenthood faced yet another devastating blow to their goal of providing comprehensive women’s health care as the Susan G. Komen Foundation announced that they would be ending their partnership and defunding all Planned Parenthood affiliates.
Susan G. Komen, the largest breast cancer charity in the United States, claimed validity in their decision, referring to a recently adopted policy that prohibits the foundation from funding any organization under investigation by local, state or federal officials. Coincidentally, Planned Parenthood is currently under investigation in a malicious attack launched by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns which aims to reveal the health center’s exact use of federal funds and ensure they are not used to provide abortions, therefore deeming them “ineligible” for grants under the new Komen policy. All the while, we all know that federal funding for abortion has been prohibited since the Hyde Amendment in 1976.
One in five women in America has visited a Planned Parenthood at some point of her life. To think that twenty percent of women in our country could potentially go without the essential health care they need at the expense of Komen’s reputation and corporate decision-making is not only heartbreaking, it’s unforgivable. Planned Parenthood provides essential preventative health care services including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of STDs, breast health services, Pap tests, and sexual health education and information. In Los Angeles alone, 56.4% of Planned Parenthood patients in 2011 were 18-25 years old. An overwhelming amount of young people rely on these services, and we need to take a stand!
Komen is facing mounting criticism for its decision. Some critics claim that the foundation reacted to pressure from anti-abortion groups. Despite the fact that abortion makes up less than 3 percent of the services provided by Planned Parenthood and is not federally funded, they remain relentlessly attacked by aggressive anti-choice advocates and many believe Komen’s decision was largely influenced by these groups. “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”, says President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards. “I find this really disappointing,” echoed Sue Dunlap, chief executive of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. “I think when women’s health is more of a political conversation than a conversation about health care and taking care of people, then we’ve gone too far.’’
The Susan G. Komen Foundation previously provided over $600,000 in funds to Planned Parenthood affiliates for services in line with their mission of ending breast cancer such as breast exams and referrals for mammograms. According to Richards, over the past five years, Komen’s funding has covered 170,000 of the over 4 million breast exams performed as well as 6,400 mammogram referrals, services that will now require new sources of funding. In order to ensure that patients will continue to receive essential health services, Planned Parenthood has established a Breast Health Emergency Fund, initiated by a generous $250,000 donation from Amy and Lee Rikes’ Foundation. The Rikes’ encourage others to join them in donating, “so that no woman’s health is imperiled by Komen’s unfortunate decision.”
Outraged? Sign the petition and let the board of the Susan G. Komen Foundation know that you stand with women and they should too!
Until women have complete freedom to make decisions about their own bodies, we will continue to be second-class citizens in American society.