The Dallas-based Susan G. Komen Foundation For the Cure faced swift criticism in the wake of news that the breast cancer charity has cut off donations to Planned Parenthood.
The Associated Press’ David Crary, who had the scoop Tuesday, wrote that the move “creat[ed] a bitter rift, linked to the abortion debate, between two iconic organizations that have assisted millions of women.”
The Komen Foundation, which provided more than half a million dollars in yearly grants to Planned Parenthood to perform breast exams, said it pulled its support because of a new internal rule prohibiting donations to organizations under investigation. ( U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican, launched a Congressional investigation into whether Planned Parenthood was using taxpayer money to fund abortions).
But Planned Parenthood saw the move differently: “Until really recently, the Komen foundation had been praising our breast health programs as essential,” Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood president, told the New York Times . “This really abrupt about-face was very surprising. I think that the Komen foundation has been bullied by right-wing groups.”
Mother Jones ’ Kate Sheppard describes the form this pressure on Komen took:
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.
Sheppard also points out that internal pressure at Komen might have played a role, emanating from a new anti-abortion vice president, Karen Handel, who had spoken publicly against Planned Parenthood during her run for the Georgia Republican gubernatorial primary.
At Slate’s Double X blog, Amanda Marcotte dubbed the move an “act of cowardice” that threatens to harm women:
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 YA author Judy Blume was swift to condemn Komen’s decision on Twitter:
Susan Komen would not give in to bullies or to fear. Too bad the foundation bearing her name did. Support @ PPact. Save lives.
— Judy Blume (@judyblume) February 1, 2012
GOOD’s Nona Willis Aronowitz suggested those who are upset by the news “give Komen the pink slip” by donating elsewhere.
At best, this decision is spineless. At worst, it’s cruel. …Rescinding the Planned Parenthood funding implies that the only women who deserve to receive breast cancer screenings are those who can afford a private doctor.
Ed Morrissey, writing at conservative blog Hot Air , was among those on the right thrilled by the decision: “Planned Parenthood has become politically toxic, and the Komen Foundation hardly needs that kind of baggage from its grant recipients,” he wrote.