The Washington Post

Komen Foundation’s lamentable choice

Why unite when you can divide? (Brian Chilson/Associated Press)

Susan G. Komen has a policy not to give money to groups under investigation, the organization noted. And, of course, a House subcommittee investigation now complicating the life of Planned Parenthood isn’t politically motivated. Nope. Nosiree.

I hate when you are having what you think is a conversation about one thing, and it turns out to be a conversation about something else.

Abortion is an issue about which many, many people feel passionate.

But it's not the issue in question here. At least, it shouldn’t be.

Planned Parenthood does all kinds of other things. It performs millions of breast cancer screenings each year. It provides HPV screenings and pap smears and other reproductive health services for women unable to get them from other sources. But you provide one abortion . . .

Breast cancer does not discriminate.

I wish the allies in the fight against it were the same way.

One of the sole benefits of a common enemy is to bring together people who disagree.

Susan G. Komen's annual contribution to Planned Parenthood isn't a make-or-break level of funding — Planned Parenthood has an annual budget of a billion dollars, and the grants were in the neighborhood of $650,000. But it's the principle of the thing.

So I’m also ticked off by the people who say they won’t donate to Susan G. Komen any more. Really? Refuse to donate to the fight on breast cancer on the grounds that some of the people leading it do not share all your beliefs to the letter? That seems woefully short-sighted. It’s almost as short-sighted as the funding decision that shifted the discussion in the first place.

Abortion is one of the few bitterly polarizing issues for which it’s difficult to locate any middle ground. At a certain point, you come down on one side or the other. I’m pro-choice. In no way do I think it’s an easy choice. But if it’s a hard and gut-wrenching choice for the actual women involved, it seems peculiar that it should be any easier for gaggles of state legislators who aren’t there, who in many cases are incapable of becoming pregnant, and who yet seem uncannily certain that they know exactly the solution.

But I acknowledge that this is a difficult and delicate discussion. And it’s not one that should be at the forefront of the fight against breast cancer.

This funding decision takes an organization and a movement that is united by one issue and divides it on another. Of course it’s political. And it’s distracting. And it’s a shame.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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