Lately, there has been some controversy in our school about a sensitive subject. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, the undisputed global leader in the movement for a cure for breast cancer, gives some of the money it raises to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood’s website says it is the country’s “leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate.” It provides services to prevent unintended pregnancy, gives Pap tests and breast exams, provides STD testing and counseling, and performs abortions.
Is it okay to support the Susan G. Komen foundation if some of the money goes to an organization that hands out birth control and provides abortions, which are in conflict with Catholic teaching? This question was addressed by the Susan G. Komen foundation. In March 2009, an open letter was sent out about the connection between the foundation and Planned Parenthood. In it, Eric Winer, M.D., Chief Scientific Advisor of the Komen foundation, explained where the money went. She talks about the importance of mammograms and breast cancer education, and goes on to say:
“And while Komen Affiliates provide funds to pay for screening, education and treatment programs in dozens of communities, in some areas, the only place that poor, uninsured or under-insured women can receive these services are through programs run by Planned Parenthood. These facilities serve rural women, poor women, Native American women, women of color, and the un- and under-insured. As part of our financial arrangements, we monitor our grantees twice a year to be sure they are spending the money in line with our agreements, and we are assured that Planned Parenthood uses these funds only for breast health education, screening and treatment programs.”
Now, people know that if they give money to the Komen foundation and it eventually goes to Planned Parenthood, it is not paying for abortions or birth control. Does this make it acceptable to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure? Or, though the money supposedly does not pay directly for abortions, is it okay to support the Komen foundation even if it gives money to an organization that provides abortions?
Other questions arise from these ones. If you believe that it is all right to support the Komen foundation because the money Planned Parenthood gets is only used for breast cancer programs, would you still feel the same way if a small portion of the money were used on abortions, but the majority went to breast cancer? Would the ‘greater good’ win out- saving the lives of many women versus the lives of only a few babies?
And on the other side, if you believe the Komen foundation is insupportable, does the same apply for all other organizations that indirectly assist in something against your beliefs? In other words: would you only boycott organizations that support something like abortion, and not something that may seem less serious (like if Planned Parenthood only gave out birth control)?
For most people, myself included, these are difficult questions to answer. Most people have been affected or know someone who has been affected by breast cancer, and this can make these decisions even more difficult. Though it would be easier to go on pretending we don’t know there is a link between Planned Parenthood and the Komen organization, we cannot do that.
I want to note here that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation is not breast cancer and is not the color pink. Not supporting the Komen organization does not mean not supporting the global search for a cure for breast cancer. Someone who doesn’t support the Komen foundation can still fight for a cure, can still wear pink, can still cheer for survivors, can still make a difference. It is very important to remember to distinguish between Susan G. Komen and support for breast cancer survivors and the search for a cure.
I hope this article has made you think, or made you sad, or made you angry. If there is something you would like to say, feel free to post a comment, it’s very easy and anyone can do it. I want to know if there is something I missed, and what you think of this situation.