Friday, February 03, 2012

Komen Foundations' Folly

Click on the title of this blog and you'll be taken to a video of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell having a discussion with the leader of the Susan G Komen foundation, Nancy Brinker.

Of course, by now everyone knows about the issue.  Ms. Brinker and the Komen foundation have elected to stop providing funding to Planned Parenthood.  The reason for this is that Planned Parenthood provides abortion services to its clients. Ms. Brinker's foundation, ostensibly focused on finding a cure for breast cancer has stepped on what is coming to be a "Third Rail" of political discussion around women's reproductive care.  The backlash has been considerable.

Planned Parenthood has come under fire over the past few years because of the abortion issue.  Conservatives in and out of the political scene have attacked Planned Parenthood for providing abortion services.  Legislatures in both the federal and state governments have voted to defund Planned Parenthood because of the abortion issue.  Many ultra-conservatives have also decried the fact that Planned Parenthood offers birth control at little or no cost to its clients.  The blinding folly of the Komen Foundation and conservatives in general is that they are objecting to an organization that has probably prevented more abortions than it has conducted through the distribution of birth control and information to young women who might otherwise not have access to these services.

Planned Parenthood has been around for a long time.  Founded by Margaret Sanger in New York in the early part of the 20th Century, it has provided health services for women that include wellness checks, cancer screenings, birth control, and yes abortion services.  However, unlike Senator John Kyl's (R-AZ) false claim that 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is provide abortion services, the principal reason for their being is to serve women's health.  Additionally, Planned Parenthood uses no federal funding to provide abortion services.  They have been very open in outlining where their taxpayer funding is used.  This organization provides a vital array of services to a demographic that has often been avoided by either governmental services or private, for pay services, in that it supports low-income women who would have to either go without health care, or pay significantly more for the services which would cause a further economic burden to them.

The decision by Ms. Brinker and the foundation to end funding for Planned Parenthood is of course their right. No organization should be forced to support something they don't believe in. However, I believe they have missed the overall big-picture.  Planned Parenthood provides low cost cancer screening and mammograms that are the primary tool to help identify Breast Cancer early.  Data compiled over the last 40 or so years shows that early discovery of tumors with respect to Breast Cancer significantly increases the chance of survivability of the stricken.   The primary reason for being for the Komne Foundation is to find a cure for and treat those who suffer from Breast Cancer. So, a stand, however principled it might be from a few people in the Komen Foundation has in fact set back their efforts to find a cure and battle this dreadful disease. 

Abortion is a lightening rod issue and will always be so.  That said, it is also important to keep things in perspective.  Where the Komen Foundation went wrong was not realizing that Planned Parenthood prevents more unwanted pregnancies than it aborts.  It also has likely helped many more women discover breast cancer early and get treatment that either saves or extends their lives.  So, in my view, the Komen Foundation has made a major mistake.

The public outcry of the Komen Foundation's decision has been significant.  Already, donations have come in from multiple areas that fills the void left by the Komen Foundation's decision to withdraw its support.  Since the decision was announced, almost a million dollars have come into Planned Parenthood from a variety of donors (even New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has donated $250 thousand dollars).  My wife and I have been long term supporters of Planned Parenthood and have added our donations to the organization as part of this response. I've added a link here if you would like to provide a donation to the organization.

Women's health is as important as any political issue being discussed today.  Attempting to defund an organization as useful and important as Planned Parenthood is a mistake.  I hope the Komen Foundation comes to realize this and reverses its policy.

Let me know what you think,


1 comment:

  1. I agree and it now appears that Komen does too. Amazing what a public backlash and possible loss of donations can do. Maybe Komen & Brinker will be a little more careful and humble in the future. Looks like "pink" got a little stained this week.