Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the nation’s leading breast cancer advocacy group, withdrew their Jan. 31 decision to cut funding for female cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood nationwide. The announcement that the foundation would in fact continue giving grants to Planned Parenthood came on Feb. 3 after four days of heated controversy.
“Komen’s announcement came as a shock combined with resentment and confusion,” said Julia Vandra, a fourth-year in microbiology. “How could a foundation who claims to be working for the benefit of all women take away the funds that would allow underprivileged women the means to get cancer screenings?”
Komen’s official website states they “invest significant dollars in our local community programs – $93 million in 2011, which provided for 700,000 breast health screenings and diagnostic procedures.”
Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of reproductive health services in America, is included in their community programs, providing funding for breast health screenings.
Komen claimed that in light of new, stricter requirements for their grantees that include a stipulation that organizations under government investigation may not receive grants, Planned Parenthood would no longer qualify for any funding.
Some see this announcement as reasonable.
“There was pressure that led them to cut the funding,” said Thomas Balla, a third-year in history. “And there were some legality issues as well through the government as Planned Parenthood is under investigation, which makes it more understandable.”
Others are certain that Komen’s motives to defund Planned Parenthood are purely political and their reasoning is shaky.
“Komen claims to have made their decision based on the fact that Planned Parenthood is under investigation,” Vandra said. “Komen’s actions were most definitely political. The foundation would rather appease the right wing and get in good with the powerful than do what is right for all women.”
Planned Parenthood has historically provided abortion counseling and referrals, and some of their health centers perform abortions. This has put the organization under scrutiny from conservative groups and politicians for a long time.
Some critics of Komen’s decision have claimed that the pressure to defund Planned Parenthood came from the appointment of Karen Handel as Komen’s senior vice president of public policy in 2011. Handel, former secretary of state of Georgia and 2010 Republican nominee hopeful for the governor of Georgia, has publicly announced her pro-life stance, having said during her unsuccessful campaign for governor that “I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.”
In a written statement, Komen founder and CEO Nancy Brinker denied political accusations in relation to their funding.
“We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood,” Brinker said. “They were not.”
Regardless of the organization’s reasoning, it was announced Friday that funding to Planned Parenthood would continue.
“I think that they did the right thing to retract their announcement and continuing the funding because Planned Parenthood is a good outlet for people to use,” Balla said. “That money could save lives and serve purposes that may have been missed or overlooked.”
Although the grants are once again in place, some see this ordeal as permanently tarnishing an organization so prominent and successful.
“Komen is too late,” Vandra said. “They have shown their true colors.”