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Breast Cancer Backstory: Komen's Decison to Cut Planned Parenthood Funding

Breast Cancer Backstory: Komen's Decison to Cut Planned Parenthood Funding

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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:

Definitely notable: Komen Foundation cuts off funding to Planned Parenthood b/c its under Congressional investigation.

- Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) January 31, 2012

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.

breast cancer, abortion, planned parenthood, susan g. komen, reporting on health, health journalism

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.

Update: The Komen Foundation has disabled downloading of its photos on Flickr (what you see above is a stock photo), as have other Komen Race for the Cure supporters. Story for anyone?


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According to Planned Parenthood, the engine driving the defunding campaign is California's Rep. Stearns: "In abruptly pulling nearly $1,000,000 in funding for breast cancer screenings, the Susan G. Koman foundation cited a sham "investigation" into Planned Parenthood launched by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns, one of the most militant anti-choice members of Congress. You may recall the so-called investigation was launched by Rep. Stearns last fall after Congress failed to pass bill after bill to defund reproductive health services to women." -- Planned Parenthood

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Leaders within the Susan G. Komen for the Cure should be ASHAMED and donors should curtail funding until the organization cleans up its act. According to, Komen for the Cure uses 20% of funds for Administrative and Fundraising expense, leaving only 80% to fund Program expense which is comprised of both education and health care components.

Komen website states "we are committed to ending breast cancer forever by energizing science to find the cures and ensuring quality care for all people, everywhere." Yet your actions of hiring Karen Handel and recent decision to curtail providing funding for low-cost breast screening performed at Planned Parenthood facilities prove this to be untrue.

Considering your organization is focused on cancer preventative education and early detection healthcare, it is irresponsible that Komen hired an UNHEALTHY woman to make grant-award decisions. Being that Karen Handel is OBESE, her very presence emanates her INABILITY to make wise health-oriented decisions.

You can find alternative high quality breast cancer research, education and screening charities to support at or

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Does PP provide mammograms? I heard that the screenings they provide are more like coaching to do self-exams.


The Center for Health Journalism’s two-day symposium on domestic violence will provide reporters with a roadmap for covering this public health epidemic with nuance and sensitivity. The first day will take place on the USC campus on Friday, March 17. The Center has a limited number of $300 travel stipends for California journalists coming from outside Southern California and a limited number of $500 travel stipends for those coming from out of state. Journalists attending the symposium will be eligible to apply for a reporting grant of $2,000 to $10,000 from our Domestic Violence Impact Reporting Fund. Find more info here!


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