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Do not donate to Susan G. Komen for the Cure

As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I am pissed off about Susan G. Komen’s decision to pull its grants for breast cancer screening from Planned Parenthood.

Komen claims the move is because their newly adopted guidelines do not allow them to donate money to organizations under investigation by Congress. But let’s cut the crap: this is nothing more than a snivelling political move to appease anti-choicers:

Komen has been under pressure from anti-abortion groups to drop its funding for Planned Parenthood, which received $680,000 from the anti-cancer group in 2011. Most recently, abortion foes forced a Christian publisher to stop printing pink Komen bibles and pressured bookstores to take them off the shelves. Groups have also called on supporters to boycott Komen entirely, and decried the group as a “lie from the pit of Hell.” But Komen says the anti-abortion groups’ activism didn’t play a role in its decision, which it claims is the result of a new internal policy forbidding it from funding for any organization that’s currently under investigation in Congress. (Planned Parenthood is the target of a congressional investigation, but that probe is led by an anti-abortion lawmaker who has sought to end all federal support to the group.)

One thing the AP piece misses, however, is that pressure to end the Planned Parenthood funding may have also come from within Komen itself. Karen Handel was named senior vice president at Komen in April 2011, and is now “leading the organization’s federal and state advocacy efforts.” But before joining Komen, she was a candidate in the Republican gubernatorial primary in Georgia, and was critical of Planned Parenthood. “[S]ince I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood,” she wrote in a blog post, and pledged to eliminate all state funds for breast and cervical cancer screening to the group if she were elected governor.

Isn’t it oddly convenient that their new guidelines coincide with these events? Why, it’s almost as if they adopted those guidelines in order to appease anti-choicers, while simultaneously attempting to deflect blame onto Congress!

We can speculate on Komen’s motivations until we’re blue in the face, especially since they won’t even reply to Planned Parenthood’s requests to discuss the decision. But the motivations don’t change the result: Roughly $600,000 a year will no longer be going toward breast health education, clinical breast exams, and mammogram referrals for predominantly poor and minority women. Without these preventative measures, women’s health will suffer.

Some people will argue that this is not true because Komen will simply donate the money to other organizations. If there’s an organization that provides these services with the experience and geographical spread of Planned Parenthood, fill me in. But this means more than funding for some exams, as Amanda Marcotte points out:

The existence of breast-cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood has always been a thorn in the anti-choice side. Most of Planned Parenthood’s services are related to the choice to be sexually active—contraception, STD screening and treatment, cervical cancer screening—making it easy to write off those services as unnecessary if you follow the strict abstinence-only prescription the Christian right has for women. Breast cancer, however, can strike the lifelong virgin, the married woman who only has sex for procreation, and the dirty fornicator (i.e. the vast majority of American women) alike. Because of this, 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.

[...]In the end, the grant money is less important than the symbolism of Komen buying into the conservative myth of good-girl health care vs. bad-girl health care. In reality, women’s health care can only work if it’s comprehensive health care.

Even without this latest development, there were enough issues about Komen to give me pause:

Their removal of support from Planned Parenthood is the straw that broke the camel’s back. I will now be looking for other breast cancer foundations to support, and I’ve made a donation to Planned Parenthood’s emergency funding drive. I suggest you do the same, and inform your friends and family about this situation.