When Carolyn James, of Sugar Land, Texas, read that Susan G. Komen for the Cure had backtracked on cutting ties with Planned Parenthood, she sadly began calling her friends, whom she had joyfully informed just three days previously that Komen had seen the light.
For Carolyn, a breast cancer survivor and Pro-Life activist, Komen’s reversal was devastating. She and her friends had spent years urging Komen to break away from Planned Parenthood.
“I felt betrayed,” she told Texas Right to Life. “When I got involved with Komen in 2003, I thought we would raise money, go forward, and find a cure for breast cancer; but when I found out that Komen was supporting an abortion business, I dropped out of the race. I realized that you cannot save a woman’s Life in one room, and kill another Life in another room.”
Carolyn is not alone. Pro-Lifers across the nation stopped supporting Komen and boycotted the Race for the Cure once they discovered that Komen was financially supporting Planned Parenthood, which in 2010 alone committed 329,445 abortions. In that same year, Planned Parenthood performed zero mammograms.
So when Komen confirmed on January 31 that they had rewritten their grant guidelines to exclude organizations that are under investigation (Planned Parenthood is currently under federal investigation for allegedly covering up sex crimes against minor girls, and using federal funds to pay for abortions), and include only organizations that actually perform the services for which the grant money is allotted, Pro-Lifers saw the change as a significant victory over Planned Parenthood. Carolyn and her husband, John, made an immediate contribution to Susan G. Komen.
But while Pro-Lifers celebrated, Komen received a backlash of criticism from Planned Parenthood supporters. Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards, characterized the drop as an assault on women's health, claiming that thousands of women would lose access to vital cancer screenings as a result. Richards claimed that a visit to Planned Parenthood is often the only time a woman will see a doctor.
Richards' assertion, however, is challenged by Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right to Life: “Planned Parenthood claims to hold a monopoly on healthcare for low-income and uninsured women, but the number of Federally-Qualified Health Centers that offer comprehensive care for men, women, and children, vastly outnumber Planned Parenthood centers.”
If Komen redirected grant funding to mammography clinics, or one of the many Federally Qualified Health Center (or FQHC) regions, then patient access to clinical breast exams and mammograms would increase, not decrease. Indeed, Texas FQHCs – which serve low-income, uninsured, and historically underserved patients – outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities three to one. Nationally, 10 to one. FQHCs also serve rural families, whereas Planned Parenthood centers in Texas are concentrated in metro areas and other populous regions, such as along the Texas-Mexico border.
FQHCs offer the same breast health services as Planned Parenthood and comprehensive healthcare for the entire family. Unlike Planned Parenthood, FQHCs do not offer abortion.
Even so, abortion-sympathetic media picked up on Richards' hyperbole, and three days later, Komen apologized and clarified that investigations must be conclusive in order to disqualify grantees. There is no confirmation at this time as to whether the stipulation that grantees must perform the cancer screenings themselves is intact.
But while Carolyn may feel betrayed, she still has hope for the future: “I’ll get right back on board after they change their mind.”