On Tuesday, the pink-ribboned breast cancer charity known as Susan G. Komen for the Cure stopped issuing grant money to Planned Parenthood, a nationwide, nonprofit provider of reproductive, maternal and child health services which also include breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Susan G. Komen says its decision comes from a new rule forbidding funding to any organizations under government investigation; in September, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) began investigating whether Planned Parenthood uses federal money to provide abortions, making the organization ineligible.
But Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said that Komen "succumbed to political pressure" by anti-abortion advocates to end its relationship with the nation's largest abortion provider.
While several anti-abortion and anti-LGBT groups -- such as the Family Research Council -- have lauded Komen's decision to cut funding, anti-abortion site LifeNews credited Komen's senior vice president for public policy, Karen Handel, for the cuts.
During her 2010 Republican bid for Georgia governor, Handel supported defunding Planned Parenthood as well as outlawing gay adoption and criminalizing same-sex marriage statewide. In an interview with 11alive, an NBC affiliate, she was interviewed about her view on same-sex relationships:
Q: You have said that you are -- you're against gay marriage, right?
A: Mm hm. Absolutely. Marriage is between one man and one woman. And I've been very very clear about that. And the record is clear about any of the other issues like domestic partner benefits or anything like that. In fact in Fulton, I voted no on domestic partner benefits.
Q: Are you against civil unions for gays?
A: Yes. I think that's not an issue that has come forward in Georgia. We have the constitutional amendment against gay marriage, and I don't want to see any taxpayer funding going toward benefits etcetera for a couple that is not married. In our state and for me, marriage is for one man and one woman.
Planned Parenthood says that last year Komen granted the organization and at least 19 of its affiliates roughly $680,000 for breast-cancer screening and breast-health services. Since the organizations began their partnership in 2005, Komen has helped finance nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals aided by Planned Parenthood.
Cancer screenings and preventions account for sixteen percent of Planned Parenthood patient care services while abortions account for only three percent. Overwhelmingly Planned Parenthood provides contraceptives along with STD testing and treatment more than any other service it provides.
Citing research from the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Insittute, Jorge Rivas of Colorlines.com says that the people that will be most affected by Komen's cut in funding will be poorer women of color:
"African-American women are more likely than all other women to die from breast cancer. Women of color in general are more likely to be diagnosed late and die from breast cancer, due in large part to poor access to early screening and treatment—which is precisely the type of programs Komen used to fund at Planned Parenthood."
Patrick Hurd, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Virginia, said, "It sounds almost trite, but cancer doesn't care if you're pro-choice, anti-choice, progressive, conservative. Victims of cancer could care less about people's politics."
UPDATE @ 7:45PM - In a newly released statement, National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell said:
"How sad, destructive and unconscionable for Susan G. Komen for the Cure to turn its back on the very women it pretends to help. When self-interest and wealth accumulation become your primary goals, the first casualties are integrity and values. The only action Komen can take to restore some shred of dignity is to reverse this tragic decision."