Susan G. Komen stops Planned Parenthood funding: Who does the decision hurt more?

February 1, 2012

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a leading breast-cancer charity, announced it would no longer provide funding to Planned Parenthood for preventative exams. As Elizabeth Flock reported:

When Susan G. Komen announced Tuesday afternoon it was pulling its grants for breast-cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood, the reaction from critics was fast and furious.

The move was called, in some of the nicer assessments: “disgusting,” “anti-women,” and an “act of cowardice.” The president of Planned Parenthood said she couldn’t understand how the nation’s leading breast-cancer charity “could have bowed to this kind of bullying,” alleging that the funding was cut because of pressure from anti-abortion groups. Planned Parenthood offers wide-ranging reproductive health care services, but its work is centered on pro-choice decision-making and sexual education.

Petitions were also started that called for the partnership between Komen and Planned Parenthood to be restored. Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead tweeted, “I am crying in a cab at this Komen decision. Tomorrow we will rally. Who is in this fight with me! You can no longer sit idly by.”

Komen’s reasoning for the defunding is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation by Congress. But critics think internal changes and lobbying by anti-abortion groups may have also played a part in the decision. As Sarah Kliff explained:

Komen said it could not continue to fund Planned Parenthood because it has adopted new guidelines that bar it from funding organizations under congressional investigation. The House oversight and investigations subcommittee announced in the fall an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s funding.

Planned Parenthood has been at the center of a lot of heated political battles lately. Most center on whether the group, as an abortion provider, should receive government funds for other services it provides, such as offering contraceptives and preventive screenings.

So far, plans to curtail Planned Parenthood’s funds within government have been stymied. Both the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama, for instance, stood in the way of House Republicans’ attempts to end Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. Similarly, when a handful of states passed laws that would have barred abortion providers (such as Planned Parenthood) from receiving federal dollars through Medicaid, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services stepped in. The agency has warned states that they could lose all of their Medicaid funding if they implemented such a policy. Those defensive moves have allowed Planned Parenthood to weather various political attacks.

In some ways, the Komen decision isn’t particularly surprising. The group has been under pressure from anti-abortion rights groups not to fund Planned Parenthood. It also hired a vice president last year who had previously advocated for the group’s defunding in her run for Georgia governor. With a congressional investigation underway, Komen pulled its support. And when private institutions move to cut off Planned Parenthood’s funding there’s not much Democrats can do.The only possible backstop here might be pressure from Planned Parenthood supporters pushing back in the opposite direction.

Many decried the decision by Komen, and some asked whether it would pay a higher price than Planned Parenthood. As Melinda Henneberger reported:

When the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which funds research about breast cancer, a disease I had 10 and again 9 years ago, started threatening smaller nonprofits and claiming exclusive rights to the phrase “for the cure” — as in “Komen Race for the Cure” — I was cured of thinking very highly of their outfit.

Pro-choice women across the country are beyond furious that Komen has dropped its funding of breast exams through Planned Parenthood. It’s doing so, the group says, because new rules preclude Komen from donating to any group under government investigation. And Congress is investigating Planned Parenthood’s use of federal funds — specifically, whether it complies with the Hyde Amendment against the use of federal funds to pay for abortions.

I don’t share their sense of betrayal since Komen has for some time seemed to me to be run like any other big business.

I do have a question, though: Was Komen planning to give that money to some other organization, or to community clinics who’d do the exams?

In the end, they may not have to worry about what to do with the extra cash. Planned Parenthood, which received about $680,000 from Komen last year, according to the Associated Press, has reportedly already raised $250,000 on news of Komen’s decision. And it will likely end up recouping its losses quickly.

In fact, I wonder if this isn’t the liberal equivalent of Newt Gingrich getting picked on by CNN debate moderator John King — an attack, in other words, that ends up helping the attacked.

More from The Washington Post

Should Komen have been funding Planned Parenthood in the first place?

Komen’s Planned Parenthood decision all about politics

Q&A: Planned Parenthood’s President

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