Breast cancer group ends Planned Parenthood partnership
Pink ribbons have for decades been a symbol of resolve and compassion in the face of the deadly disease of breast cancer. Now, that nearly ubiquitous icon has many women seeing red.
When the nation's largest breast cancer advocacy organization considered in October cutting off most of its financial support to the nation's largest abortion provider, the breast cancer group was hoping for a quiet end to an increasingly controversial partnership.
Instead, the organization, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, is now engulfed in a controversy that threatens to undermine one of the most successful advocacy campaigns. The foundation's decision to eliminate most of its grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening caused a cascade of criticism from prominent women's groups, politicians and public health advocates and a similarly strong outpouring of support from conservative women and religious groups that oppose abortion.
Now, leaders of both the Komen foundation and Planned Parenthood are accusing each other of bad faith and actions that undermine women. And two organizations dedicated to detecting and curing breast cancer have found themselves on opposite sides of the nation's divisive debate over abortion.
John D. Raffaelli, a Komen board member and Washington lobbyist, said Wednesday that the decision to cut off money to 17 of the 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates it had supported was made because of the fear that an investigation of Planned Parenthood by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., would damage Komen's credibility with donors.
So the Komen board voted that all of its vendors and grantees must certify that they are not under investigation by federal, state or local authorities. But for Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, being the target of partisan investigations is part of doing business. So Komen's new rule effectively ended their long partnership.
Dawn Laguens, an executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said that Komen's money had over the years underwritten breast cancer screenings for 170,000 women, some of whose lives were saved as a result. She said she had no sympathy for Komen's attempt to mollify donors by ending its relationship with a controversial provider of women's health services.
''I'm going to reserve my empathy for the women left on the side of the road by somebody who has given into bullying," Laguens said.