There is a huge and growing uproar this week over the Komen Foundation's politically-motivated decision to cut its funding for breast cancer screening to Planned Parenthood.
The decision could cut off the only access to breast health counseling available to poor women in some parts of the United States. An inflammatory claim to be sure, but the founder of the Komen group has told us that is exactly what may happen.
In 2010, Komen founder and Nancy Brinker published "Promise Me", a memoir of how the group was founded and grew, starting from the deathbed promise made to her sister, Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980.
In the book, she discusses how the Curves workout chain withdrew their support to Komen in 2004 due to Komen's grants to Planned Parenthood centers. Brinker is clear about why they refused to buckle to Curves' pressure:
"The grants in question supplied breast health counseling, screening, and treatment to rural women, poor women, Native American women, many women of color who were underserved--if served at all--in areas where Planned Parenthood facilities were often the only infrastructure available. Though it meant losing corporate money from Curves, we were not about to turn our backs on these women."Until this week, apparently. Wow.
Brinker continues to make clear that Komen's PP funding has nothing to do with abortions, and that although they were sad to lose Curves' support -- "we remain focused on our mission."
Until now it seems. Ugh.
Book excerpt below
ETA 9:15am PST: Komen seems to be backing down today, but its a bit ambiguous. The admission by Brinker in 2010 above is important in any event.
ETA: 1:11pm PST: Thanks to John Green, Little Green Footballs, Shoq and all who have retweeted, reposted, facebooked, etc., this story.