The Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization is certainly famous in the United States and maybe throughout the world for it’s fight against breast cancer. They’ve gotten themselves in the news lately for their dropping support for Planned Parenthood, and then restarting support. I am certainly glad that they decided to continue their approximately ½ million dollars per year that they had been contributing. Unfortunately, in the process of looking at the issue I did discover that Komen might need to examine themselves.
But, first of all, lets look at Planned Parenthood. They indeed perform abortions — which troubles some. They also do Breast Cancer Screenings, Procedures to Prevent Cervical Cancer, STD Testing, Gonorrhea testing, etc. The list goes on and you certainly can find all of their services by visiting their web site ( www.plannedparenthood.org ) . From what I can tell, Planned Parenthood clients are mostly the poor. Planned Parenthood is the only hope for many women to get good health advice and, yes, an abortion if they so desire. It is a vital service. Hence, in the continuing Republican war against women and the poor, Planned Parenthood is in their cross-hairs. They were almost successful but the Susan G. Komen foundation reversed themselves and decided to continue the funding. They did the right thing. It is only too bad that they had to be pushed to do it.
The funding is not assured. According to the Washington Post, Planned Parenthood is, once more, eligible. It is not a given that they will get funded. They have not put in an application for funding because they had been told that they were no longer eligible. On the other hand, enough people gave donations, so that the amount that they may have lost from Komen has been made up. We’ll have to see what happens next year.
In April 2011 Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said, in a speech against federal support for Planned Parenthood; 97% of what planned parenthood does is abortions. His staff later said his assertion was “not intended to be a factual statement”. So, it was intended to be a lie? I am always happy to see a politician who is honest about lying. That statement was so ridiculed that he had it removed from the Congressional Record.
Here is a factual statement: Planned Parenthood’s abortion care represents 3 percent of its medical services — 332,000 terminations out of a total of 11.4 million services provided in 2009 (from April 15, 2010 Washington Post). Nearly all the care offered at Planned Parenthood health centers is preventive services and screenings, including contraception, testing for sexually transmitted infections, pap smears and breast exams. Title X funds cannot be used for abortion care at any time, for any reason. Federal Medicaid funds can be used to reimburse a provider for an abortion when the pregnancy would endanger the life of the woman or resulted from rape or incest.
Oddly, breast-cancer screening has always been a source of aggravation for the anti-choice people. A lot of them still seem to feel that breast cancer can only be gotten by sexually active women who have gotten an abortion. Rick Santorum has been saying that. This is just plain nonsense, but there are a lot who believe it. A lifelong virgin can get breast cancer, a married woman can get it, and a prostitute can get it. It has no relationship to how a woman is carrying on below her waist. There have been many studies, but no indication that an aborted pregnancy can increase the risk of breast cancer.
The Susan G. Komen foundation, might need to examine themselves a little bit. If you go to the ComplementaryTherapies area of their website ( http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/ComplementaryTherapies.html ) , you will see a long list of, “Integrative and Complementary Therapies”. I was surprised by some of the stuff that is included in the list. I certainly see a number of items that have no known benefits toward fighting cancer. Acupuncture? Prayer? Tai chi? GIVE ME A BREAK! Our donations pay for this? Silly me, I thought that I was donating to fight breast cancer.
Komen is dominated by a very conservative board as well as the director. In 2008 and 2009 they spent a total of over $1 million dollars lobbying against the public option portion of the healthcare bill. The CEO of Komen, Nancy Brinker has strong ties to George W Bush — which probably helps to explain her opposition to progressive policies.
Over the years Komen has associated themselves with some questionable promotions. For example, according to Wiki, in 2005 Yoplait donated ten cents to Komen for each lid mailed in by consumers when postage to mail a letter cost 37 cents. Why not just donate the 37 cents!
In 2009 the handgun maker Smith and Wesson announced a donation to Komen of the proceeds collected from the sale of the M&P9 JG pistol, with a “special pink grip”. I wonder if Komen knows that bullets have been known to cause harm to living things.
Unfortunately, if a woman (actually men can get breast cancer as well) has invasive breast cancer the statistics are pretty dismal and, over the last 40 years have gotten worse. According to a “Slate” article by Katherine Rich ( http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2010/10/sink_pink.single.html ) a woman now has a 1 in 8 chance of getting breast cancer in her lifetime. In 1975 the figure was 1 in 11. Yes, that is not a misprint, the odds have actually gotten worse. There are those who have been pushing Komen to donate funds to study environmental causes, but Komen has never been interested. Environmental pollution is not an item that conservatives are interested in studying.
According to the Slate article, Susan G. Komen promotes the importance of early mammograms, but research concludes that “for every 2000 women invited for screening throughout 10 years, one will have her life prolonged, and 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed if there had not been screening, will be treated unnecessarily.” Komen has strong ties to General Electric — which happens to be a major producer of breast x-ray machines. It is possible that this influences their strong attitude in favor of mammograms.
So, what have I gathered from this research? Susan G. Komen finally, after prodding, did the right thing. As I stated above, some of their practices need to be examined to make sure that they are putting their money where it does the most good, and, if politics does enter into their decision process, they need to be honest about it. They had a good reputation but I must admit that after reading about them, I am a bit cynical.
Planned Parenthood provides an extremely useful service. I never realized how much until I researched for this blog. Putting it out of business as the Republicans have tried to do will only hurt the poor and not affect the wealthy — which is what the current Republican Party is all about.