The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation is a breast cancer awareness powerhouse. As its influence has grown, so too have the number of its critics, who, while appreciative of the group’s good works, cringe at the fact that some of the donations to Komen end up in the coffers of abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
In addition to the debate over the propriety of allocating money to Planned Parenthood, some groups allege that studies prove abortions and certain oral contraceptives can cause breast cancer — while organizations such as Komen deny such links.
Dorinda C. Bordlee, executive director of the Bioethics Defense Fund, speculated to The Daily Caller that one of the main reasons for Komen’s support of Planned Parenthood is the fact that Komen’s founder, Nancy Brinker, was a supporter of the organization, acting as an advisory board member of Planned Parenthood’s North Texas affiliate.
Komen spokesman John Hammarley told TheDC that the issue is overblown, as funding to Planned Parenthood is limited and strictly overseen.
According to Hammarley, about 20 of Komen’s 122 affiliates are responsible for the money that goes to Planned Parenthood and that those funds are used only for breast cancer treatment, education, or screening programs that happen to be affiliated with the abortion group.
“Those funds are audited twice a year to make sure that the money that is invested from the Komen affiliate is being used for screening, treatment or education of breast cancer only,” Hammarley said. “If they ever find that it is either intermingled with their general fund or used specifically for something else, it is shut down. Legal action is taken and the program is required to pay back the money.”
Hammarley went on to state that such action has never been taken.
From 2004-2009 Komen affiliates contributed about $3.3 million to programs sponsored by Planned Parenthood and in FY 2009, $731,303. “That $731,303 is less than one percent of the entire amount of community grant funding that affiliates around the country contribute,” Hammarley said.*
But to people like Bordlee, the amount is insignificant. It is the principle of it. “No matter whether they are giving $500,000 a year to Planned Parenthood, or $5, people who respect the dignity of human life and are trying to save people with disease don’t want any part of their money going to an organization that is subsidizing an abortion provider,” she said.
In addition to the funding concerns, many in the pro-life community argue that abortions actually increase women’s risk for breast cancer and are horrified that Komen denies that risk.
Karen Malec, president and co-founder of the Coalition on Abortion/ Breast Cancer, told TheDC that Planned Parenthood is complicit in the breast cancer epidemic for just that reason. According to Malec, it is well established that abortion can cause breast cancer. “Their gifts to Planned Parenthood are comparable to the American Lung Society giving funds to Brown and Williamson Company…..to screen for lung cancer,” she said.
In an open 2009 letter, Dr. Eric Winer, M.D., Komen’s chief scientific advisor, addressed those concerns, writing that while Komen provides funds to Planned Parenthood, the purpose of the funds — to screen for breast cancer — is just and acceptable and the supposed link between breast cancer and abortion is false.
“Another piece of misinformation being spread by many who criticize Komen for the Cure for its Planned Parenthood grants is that abortion causes breast cancer. Well conducted research consistently fails to support this claim,” he wrote. “We agree with the bulk of scientific evidence – from the National Cancer Institute, Harvard, a rigorous study in Denmark and from Oxford University – that there is no conclusive link between breast cancer and induced abortion or miscarriage.”