Friday, February 3, 2012

Senators Ben Cardin & Barbara Mikulski Protest Susan Komen Cuts to Planned Parenthood Breast Cancer Screening Programs

UPDATE: A Maryland Juice reader reports that the Susan Komen Foundation has just released an apology. The AP reports: "'We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives,' a Komen statement said."

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Maryland Juice has heard gobs of recent news coverage about the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the group that organizes the "Run for the Cure" charity events for cancer research. The Harford County-based news site The Dagger reported:
U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) today joined 24 Senate colleagues in a letter to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation urging it to reverse its decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.

Each year Planned Parenthood provides important breast cancer screenings for poor women, including 750,000 breast exams and 770,000 PAP tests. In 2011, grants from the Komen Foundation provided Planned Parenthood with $650,000 in funding for breast cancer prevention and screening.

For those who are unfamiliar with the background to this story, anti-choice activists tried to make an issue about Planned Parenthood, and the Komen group quickly caved. The New York Times recently reported on the backstory:
The deluge of criticism Komen faced on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr came two weeks after online protests led Congress to suspend an effort to pass anti-piracy legislation that some in the Internet community saw as a threat to online freedoms. It demonstrated again how social media can change the national conversation with head-snapping speed....

Komen’s founder and chief executive, Nancy G. Brinker, held a news conference Thursday and insisted that the organization’s decision had nothing to do with abortion or politics. Rather, she said, it resulted from improved grant-making procedures and was not intended to make a target of Planned Parenthood....

Her comments directly contradicted those of John D. Raffaelli, a Komen board member and Washington lobbyist, who told The New York Times on Wednesday that Komen made the changes to its grant-making process specifically to end its relationship with Planned Parenthood....

A growing number of religious organizations had become concerned that donations to Komen would benefit Planned Parenthood and had advised members not to give to Komen. Rather than risk offending some donors with a relatively small portfolio of grants, Komen decided to largely cut off Planned Parenthood, Mr. Raffaelli said.

To Planned Parenthood, that decision amounted to a betrayal of the organizations’ shared goal of saving lives through breast screening programs.

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