The Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure entered the field of politics with its recent decision to deny future grants to Planned Parenthood of America. Within a day of Mitt Romney saying that he’s not interested in helping the poor, apparently the Komen Foundation has come to the same decision.
Komen has reached irreconcilable differences with its supporters’ pro-life stance and Planned Parenthood’s abortion services. Planned Parenthood provides 750,000 breast cancer exams a year. Susan G. Komen’s grants have made it possible to provide 170,000 breast cancer exams and 6,000 mammogram referrals over the past 5 years. And 97% of Planned Parenthood’s services for the poor are not related to abortion services but to education, screening and prevention.
Komen says it’s not a political decision. That’s like someone ending a romantic relationship and saying it’s not about you. Finding a cure for breast cancer should not be about politics, political party or position on abortion. Yet, somehow politics have now jumped in with both feet in the race for the cure. Cancer doesn’t care about political party, race, class or gender. And neither should Susan G. Komen. Cancer is an equal opportunity killer. Breast cancer still strikes one in 8 American women today.
Attempting to stop vulnerable and poor women from getting cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood may win favor with Mitt Romney and the political right, but it will risk lives instead of saving them. I always thought the Susan G. Komen Foundation was about saving lives with a cure. I wonder when a cure is found, whether Komen will try to stop women receiving services at Planned Parenthood from receiving the cure.
Breast cancer screenings save lives. And until a cure is found, we should want every woman to get screened for breast cancer. If the Komen Foundation for the Cure wants to remain true to its number 1 priority of finding a cure for breast cancer, it will drop politics out of the cure.
Post Script: In a reversal of fortune, Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure decides to end its decision to defund Planned Parenthood. The power of the media is huge in this decision.
Debbie Hines is a lawyer, former prosecutor and legal /political commentator appearing in national and local media including CNN, the Michael Eric Dyson Show, XM Sirius radio, NBC , ABC and CBS -Washington, DC affiliates, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She founded LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. She also writes for the Huffington Post.