Photo: Lara604 via flickr
Never has such widespread hysteria been seen over a $700,000 grant. As you may have heard, The Susan G. Komen Foundation, which funds breast-cancer treatment, screening, and research decided not to renew a grant to Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer screening. Komen had been providing this grant for just two years. And had recently developed a policy against giving grants to organisations under government investigation.
Planned Parenthood believes the current Congressional investigation it is under, instigated by a pro-life group’s research, is simply an assault on abortion-rights and access to family planning services. And Komen has effectively joined them.
To put the dollar amount in perspective, Planned Parenthood spends about $1 billion annually. The Susan G. Komen Foundation gives out about $93 million annually to help low-income women get screening or treatment for breast cancer.
So, the grant in question concerns an absolutely minuscule amount of money for both groups.
All of this fury is about the symbolism.
In an odd way, the insanely disproportionate news-blitz over this funding decision has been to the immediate benefit of both groups. The Komen Foundation saw donations jump over 100 per cent and raised about $1 million in the 24 hours after it announced cutting this grant to Planned Parenthood. And Planned Parenthood raised about $500,000 in as much time and will easily replaced the dollars lost from Komen.
But to many opinion-writers (and people across the internet) all the work that the Komen Foundation has done fo-rover 30 years, all the women they’ve helped, apparently count for nothing now.
The New York Times’ lead editorial today “A Painful Betrayal” thinks this could be the end of Komen altogether:
[T]he Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation has a longstanding reputation as a staunch protector of women’s health. That reputation suffered a grievous, perhaps mortal, wound this week from the news that Komen, the world’s largest breast cancer organisation, decided to betray that mission.
The Times even went on to suggest that giving funding to Planned Parenthood amounted to “political neutrality.” Not giving money to Planned Parenthood means joining the culture-war.
But Komen hasn’t even entirely “cut-off” Planned Parenthood. They told the Washington Post that Komen will still be sending money to three Planned Parenthood affiliates in Northern Colorado, Southern California and Waco, Texas, because they are the only providers in those areas.
Komen has further explained that it prefers to fund direct treatment wherever it can and that Planned Parenthood mostly provides women with referral services, not actual mammograms.
The insane outrage that has pro-choicers and pro-lifers opening their wallets and promising fresh boycotts is totally disconnected to the facts on the ground.
If you are fiercely pro-life and don’t want your money mixed up with Planned Parenthood at all, you still shouldn’t give to the Komen Foundation.
If you are fiercely pro-choice, this tiny grant will have almost no effect on Planned Parenthood’s operations, and much less on breast-cancer treatment. Planned Parenthood is still getting a smaller sum of Komen money, and will be eligible to get more in the future. The re-direction of a two-year old grant should not be the reason you suddenly discount decades of work done for women by Komen.
Unless this is all about symbolism and intimidation.
In which case everyone should keep screaming.
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