Feb 6, 2012
On January 31, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, the famous breast cancer charity, which advertises itself with pink ribbons and has big corporate support, announced that it was breaking off funding to Planned Parenthood for breast-health services for women. The public outcry was so great, Komen was forced to reverse that decision within three days.
But by that time, the top officials of Komen had been exposed for what they are: a bunch of right-wing Republicans, who virulently oppose women’s rights. Komen’s CEO Nancy Brinker, the sister of the late Susan G. Komen, is a major Republican donor who held several positions in the George W. Bush administration, which did all it could to promote anti-abortion legislation. In 2010, Brinker made Karen Handel her senior vice president for public policy. When Handel ran for governor of Georgia, she won Sarah Palin’s support by describing herself as “staunchly and unequivocally pro-life.” In other words, she is ready to condemn women to death by refusing them access to contraceptives and abortion.
Once in charge at Komen, Handel looked for a way to cut off Komen’s funding to Planned Parenthood. “I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood,” she declared.
Several members of Komen’s board of directors resigned over the decision to cut off Planned Parenthood funding. They then came forward and explained how Handel openly worked with Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns, a virulent opponent of Planned Parenthood, who swore to cut its funding and support “now and forever.” Handel used Stearns’s phony investigation into Planned Parenthood to cut off its funding.
Religious and right-wing zealots and fanatics, who want to control women’s sex lives, have opposed Planned Parenthood for a long time. Planned Parenthood provides health services, especially reproductive health care services, including for abortions, contraception, and venereal disease, to almost one-fifth of all women in the country. By attacking the ability of women to get the health care services, these “pro-lifers” are ready to see women lose one of their few sources for cancer screening if they don’t have health insurance.
The public outcry against the Komen attempt to cut off cancer screening money for Planned Parenthood shows that women were outraged at this attack. But it also shows how dangerous it is for the purse strings for vital and critical health care needs to be in the hands of privately run charities that have their own political agenda.