Planned Parenthood breast cancer services to go on
Posted February 1, 2012
Updated February 2, 2012
Durham, N.C. — The Susan G. Komen for the Cure's decision to yank hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer awareness and screenings is sparking outrage and praise locally, and both groups say they plan to keep providing the services to those who need them.
The cancer charity recently decided to halt the grants – $680,000 last year and $580,000 the year before to 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates over the past two years to target the underinsured – because Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress. The probe was launched by a conservative Republican who was urged to act by anti-abortion activists.
Now, the abortion debate has put two groups – each aiming to help women – at war.
Ninety percent of services at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Durham are breast exams and preventative screening and education for low-income women.
But the organization, which received about $20,000 in 2003 from Komen to bring breast cancer awareness to the local Latino community, does help women get abortions.
That's what the group says the Komen funding issue is all about.
"I think people, in general, don't like to see politics come in between women and their health care, and that really seems very evident in what has taken place here," Planned Parenthood's Alison Kiser said. "I think that disappoints a lot of people, and it disappoints Planned Parenthood as well."
Kiser said she is worried that the move will misinform people who might think they can no longer turn to Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer-related services and screenings.
The services aren't changing, she said.
"Seventy percent of our patients are uninsured, so we are here, our doors are open," Kiser said. "We're not going anywhere. For the women who count on use for breast health exams and education, we will continue to provide the affordable quality care they depend on."
The Komen North Carolina Triangle Affiliate, which is gearing up for its annual Race for the Cure, said it had fielded 26 concerned calls and emails since the news broke Tuesday.
A representative with the chapter said Wednesday that the organization does plan to continue to meet the needs of the underinsured but referred all other questions to the national chapter.
"It is critical to underscore that the women we serve in communities remain our priority," it said in a statement Tuesday. "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."
Reaction is all over social media, and the move has prompted thousands nationwide to say they plan to stop donating to Komen. There are even several online petitions.
"I used (Planned Parenthood) last spring for my yearly exam. I would have had to skip it if it weren't for them since my husband had been out of work for over two years and we had no insurance," Cherie Clark posted on WRAL-TV's Facebook page. "They do good work, and I will not be supporting the (Susan G. Komen Foundation) anymore!"
"Another sign of these horrid political times that the Susan G. Komen Foundation would bow to such political pandering," Shirlé Hale Koslowski posted. "I will not be donating to this foundation until the grants come back to Planned Parenthood to help the women of (North Carolina).
Others say the move by Komen hasn't changed the way they feel about the group.
"I do support the breast cancer research and awareness because, heavens knows, we need a cure for breast cancer, but Planned Parenthood – I don't necessarily agree or disagree with what they do, but it really doesn't affect the way I feel about Komen," Athena Hahn said.