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Komen For The Cure and Planned Parenthood: My Reaction

 A lot of people have been asking my take on the dust-up after Komen for the Cure decided to sever ties with Planned Parenthood. I spent time on the phone with officials at Komen headquarters yesterday and was buried under a crush of emails from you guys. My feelings in a moment but first a few things I need to note.

*I am an Ambassador for Komen for the Cure’s Circle of Promise campaign, which seeks to change the course of the disease in women of color.

*I am a personal friend of Nancy Brinker. I remain in awe of what she has done on the front lines of the breast cancer movement. I don’t think that can or should be diminished.

*My goal is the same as it is for Komen for the Cure, to eradicate breast cancer as a life threatening disease. Because of that, I will continue my work with the organization.

Yesterday the folks at Komen forwarded me their official statement regarding this issue.

At Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the women we serve are our highest priority in everything we do.  Last year, we invested $93 million in community health programs, which included 700,000 mammograms.  Additionally, we began an initiative to further strengthen our grants program to be even more outcomes-driven and to allow for even greater investments in programs that directly serve women.   We also implemented more stringent eligibility and performance criteria to support these strategies.  While it is regrettable when changes in priorities and policies affect any of our grantees, such as a longstanding partner like Planned Parenthood, we must continue to evolve to best meet the needs of the women we serve and most fully advance our mission. 

It is critical to underscore that the women we serve in communities remain our priority. We are working directly with Komen Affiliates to ensure there is no interruption or gaps in services for women who need breast health screening and services.

Our grant making decisions are not about politics–our priority is and always will be the women we serve. Making this issue political or leveraging it for fundraising purposes would be a disservice to women.

I have no idea what goes into changing the criteria by which Komen reviews and grants money to recipients, though I’m guessing it’s quite involved. I work with them, I know there are good people in the organization and it literally pains me to see the work they are doing, at least temporarily, overshadowed by this fight. I also have a personal history with Planned Parenthood an organization that does so much for so many women, including a young woman growing up in Sacramento, California who was in need of low cost birth control.

What’s the answer? I really don’t know. Komen has the right to give dollars to whomever it sees fit, however it sees the best use of that money. I also sympathize with Planned Parenthood, which does far more than abortion-related services, a fact I wish it would make better known.

I hear you and understand your frustration. I’m not a fan of the erosion of women’s reproductive rights and I hope many of you will also focus your ire on those determined to limit those and not the organization founded in part to help women after they’ve heard some of the most awful news they ever will.

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