Chipping Away at Breast Healthcare

by Shaker Jane, a proud abortioneer who is grateful every day for her Planned Parenthood colleagues and their work to protect reproductive rights.

[Content Note: This post discusses reproductive rights (de)funding.]

Late last year, leaders from Susan G. Komen for the Cure met to discuss their decision to end the breast health care funding received by one of the foundation's largest grantees. There were no findings of patient dissatisfaction, clinical errors, or financial mismanagement, but the decision was final: Patients seen in 2012 will be the last to receive Komen-funded care.

Wondering why Komen will no longer support these lifesaving cancer screenings and breast health education sessions? Because they're provided by the highly trained doctors, nurses, and medical assistants at Planned Parenthood health centers.

Until now, Komen stood by the grants it gave to Planned Parenthood—over the past five years, between $500,000 and $700,000 that helped affiliates like mine to provide nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and referrals for more than 6,000 mammograms. Komen grants funded care for people in rural, low-income, and underserved communities, where Planned Parenthood is often the only source of health care.

Opponents of safe, legal abortion care, who consistently put their narrow political agenda ahead of our health needs, have repeatedly threatened organizations that partner with Planned Parenthood. On January 1, Komen bowed to this anti-choice pressure and added the following criteria to its funding guidelines:

• Applicant is not currently debarred from the receipt of federal or state funding.

• No key personnel of applicant or any of its affiliates has been convicted of fraud or a crime involving any other financial or administrative impropriety within the last year.

• Applicant or any of its affiliates is not currently under a local, state or federal formal investigation for financial or administrative impropriety or fraud. ("Affiliate" means any entities that control, are controlled by, or are under the same control as applicant or independent entities operating under the same name or brand as applicant.)

Each of the new requirements clearly targets Planned Parenthood, referencing continued defunding efforts and the ongoing Congressional investigation launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-[insert cleverly contemptuous "r" adjective here]).

Ironically, even by these politically motivated measures, we're still eligible, but Komen appears unwilling to discuss the issue, despite numerous requests from Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards, and donors and supporters of both organizations.

As the nation's largest reproductive health provider, our primary concern is always our patients, who desperately need the services Komen grants support. We're working with other funders to fill the gaps in care that Komen's decision creates, and our donors and advocates have pledged to support us as we try to replace these critical funds to ensure that our patients continue to get the care they need without interruption or delay.

teaspoon icon So get out your teaspoons! Call your local Komen office (find yours here) and let them know what you think of their new funding guidelines. Donate to your community's Planned Parenthood (find yours here) and ask that your gift be put toward unfunded breast health care. And breast-havers, do your annual self-exam!

[Commenting Note from Liss: There are legitimate criticisms to be made about some of Komen's awareness- and fund-raising strategies. This is not the thread for that discussion.]

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