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February 2, 2012

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By now you might have have heard the news about Susan G. Komen for the Cure caving to pressure from the Far Right and cutting off its funding of Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screening program.

Komen has long been one of the largest clearinghouses for donations to fund the fight against breast cancer a high profile organization with famous events such as Race for the Cure, and a long list of high-profile and celebrity endorsers. Now, the organization is putting right-wing politics ahead of women’s health, and in particular, the health of the millions of low-income women served by Planned Parenthood.

It’s wrong. And many of Komen’s state and local affiliates are distancing themselves from the national organization’s decision, and vowing to keep funding Planned Parenthood’s cancer screenings. Hopefully affiliates rejecting the new policy will be a first step towards Komen righting the wrong it has done.

Please contact your state or local Komen affiliate and tell it to publically oppose national Komen’s decision and to do all it can to keep funding Planned Parenthood’s important work.

And just as important, help spread the word. Share this information on Facebook and Twitter, forward it to your friends and family, and post it to any online communities of which you are a part.

Here are the facts, and they are not pretty:

  • Congressional Republicans being the Far Right’s willing foot soldiers in its war on women, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) launched an inquiry to determine whether Planned Parenthood uses public money to fund abortions. Planned Parenthood receives federal money but cannot use it to provide abortions. The malicious and farcical inquiry is based on the ongoing smear campaign against Planned Parenthood by Religious Right activists, but Komen is using this as its excuse to stop funding Planned Parenthood’s critical work -- citing a new policy about not supporting organizations under congressional investigation.

  • The right-wing pressure leading to Komen’s decision also came from within the organization. Last year, Komen hired as its new vice president of public policy Karen Handel, an anti-choice former secretary of state and Republican candidate for governor in Georgia. During her failed primary bid, Handel vowed to cut off any state-allocated funds to Planned Parenthood and was one of Sarah Palin’s infamous “Mama Grizzly” endorsed candidates. Indeed, the bio on Handel’s Twitter account reads “Lifelong Conservative Republican formerly Georgia’s first Republican Secretary of State,” giving an indication of her priorities.

  • It’s now being reported that Komen’s top public health official, Mollie Williams, resigned in protest immediately following the Komen board's decision to cut off Planned Parenthood in December.

  • In another apparent nod to anti-choice activists, Komen has also quietly stopped funding potentially life-saving stem cell research, showing that its mission to find “a cure” takes a back seat to its desire to please social conservatives.

  • Komen’s board includes Jane Abraham, the General Chairman of the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List (SBA). SBA constantly spreads false information about federal government funding of abortion and public health and medical evidence surrounding safe abortion care. Abraham is also closely tied with the Nurturing Network, which exists for the sole purpose of convincing women that abortions cause a range of unrelated health problems, like promoting the mythical link between abortions and breast cancer. Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check rightly asks, “Can you trust a breast cancer organization whose staff and board members lie about breast cancer?”

Please help spread the word and share this on Facebook and Twitter.

We hope you are spurred to action. In addition to contacting your state or local Komen affiliate, here are some other things you can do:

  1. If you are on Twitter, find Komen’s celebrity spokespeople and supporters and tweet this information to them or ask them to withdraw their support and instead support a different organization. You can find celebrity supporters here and here.

  2. Support a breast cancer organization that puts women’s health ahead of politics. Organizations like Army of Women, Breast Cancer Action and the National Breast Cancer Foundation are good alternatives to the now-politicized Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

  3. Support Planned Parenthood AND other local women’s clinics in your area.

Komen’s decision was a major victory for the Radical Right and anti-choice activists, but a major defeat for low-income women and women’s health.

Do something about it.

Thank you for your ongoing support and your activism.

-- Ben Betz, Online Strategy Manager

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