Planned Parenthood and Susan G Komen - the Politics of Women's Health

The decision by the Susan G. Komen Foundation to withdraw its support of Planned Parenthood has caused quite an uproar among those both for and against the foundation’s action. The general consensus of the pro-life group is that Planned Parenthood funds abortions, and therefore should not be supported in any way by Susan G. Komen or any other organization – or the government, for that matter. Among the pro-choice faction, there is anger and frustration that the Komen foundation would choose to stop supporting an organization that, in addition to abortions, offers free mammograms and health screening for low-income women, which aids in the prevention of breast cancer, which is what the Komen foundation is all about.


Karen Handel, who was endorsed by Sarah Palin during her unsuccessful bid for governor of Georgia in 2010, has been the Foundation’s Senior Vice President for Public Policy since April 2011. During her gubernatorial candidacy, she ran on an anti-choice platform, vowing that if elected, she’d defund Planned Parenthood. Handel wrote on her campaign blog,

I will be a pro-life governor who will work tirelessly to promote a culture of life in Georgia…. I believe that each and every unborn child has inherent dignity, that every abortion is a tragedy, and that government has a role, along with the faith community, in encouraging women to choose life in even the most difficult of circumstances…. since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.

She even promised to eliminate funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings provided by the organization.

This is the most curious point of all. Why would an organization that supports the pursuit of women’s health and well-being, Susan G. Komen, hire someone who has such a polarizing view  regarding the most important health issue of all for women: the right to choose? This must have been a deliberate and conscious decision by the Komen foundation, which obviously feels the need to move towards a more conservative political viewpoint.

From an April 2011 article in the Huffington Post:

Planned Parenthood said it performed about 330,000 abortions last year, 3 percent of its total health care services. The organization also said its doctors and nurses annually conduct 1 million screenings for cervical cancer, 830,000 breast exams and some 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases.

That’s a lot of health care for women.

Whether conservative, pro-life, anti-abortion activists and politicians like it or not, abortion is legal in this country – albeit with very specific guidelines as laid out here. Planned Parenthood is providing a legal medical procedure. What you or I may think of it morally or philosophically is irrelevent, as long as funding is provided by the government and private donors.  Susan G. Komen withdrawing its funding is just the tip of the iceberg. Conservative politicians and organizations are on a mission to withdraw all funding to Planned Parenthood because they perform abortions and in spite of the fact that 97% of their medical care and money goes to other procedures, tests and screenings.

Of course, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has every right to give their money to which ever organization they choose. By deciding to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood, they have made a very clear and definitive statement about their support of healthcare for low-income women. I suppose it’s more advantageous to spend their money on pink gloves for football players each October, or on litigation to protect the phrase “race for the cure” and to trademark the color pink, as explained in this article in the Wall Street Journal.

I have supported Susan G. Komen over the years with both money and time volunteered. I’m afraid I can no longer do so.



Sharon Greenthal


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