Susan G. Komen Defunds Planned Parenthood

A unlikely Republican ally?

Founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Nancy Brinker announced that SGK will no longer fund groups that are under local, state, and federal investigation. This includes Planned Parenthood, an organization that aims to “improve women’s health and safety, prevent unintended pregnancies, and advance the right and ability of individuals and families to make informed and responsible choices.” Last year, SGK gave $680,000 to Planned Parenthood; this year, they do not intend to donate a penny. 

This move has garnered negative responses from the public. According to NetBase Solutions Inc., a Mountain View, California-based company whose software reads and interprets 50,000 sentences a minute from billions of social media sources, two-thirds of comments were pessimistic. However, those most passionate about this choice are likely to backlash.

Given Planned Parenthood’s message, it may seem surprising that SGK would stop funding Planned Parenthood. But, perhaps it shouldn’t be. 

Nancy Brinker founded The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, now known as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in 1982 after her sister, Susan, courageously fought breast cancer. Despite her difficult situation, Susan thought about other women battling the same illness. Inspired by her sister’s strength, Ms. Brinker founded the SGK Foundation, the global leader in the breast cancer movement that has invested more than $1.9 billion since its inception, and the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to fighting breast cancer in the world. The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, along with contributions from partners, sponsors, and supporters, all assist in the fight to prevent and find a cure for breast cancer. 

Why would SGK stop funding Planned Parenthood? The former focuses on preventing women from getting breast cancer; helping those who do have this illness; and funding research that aims to find a cure for breast cancer while the latter, currently under investigation, is “the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate.” Ms. Brinker said that it is because Planned Parenthood is under investigation, but it should be noted that both organizations do not share the same goals.

Last September, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla) prompted an investigation to see if Planned Parenthood uses taxpayer and federal money to fund abortions. Rep. Stearns has contacted Planned Parenthood, and has yet to receive a response.

“This investigation of Planned Parenthood’s finances and use of taxpayer dollars is ongoing, and we are continuing to work with Planned Parenthood in getting the requested record and documents,” he said.

Rep. Stearns’ inquiry and Ms. Brinker’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood are relatable in that SGK will not give money to any group under investigation. He continued, “I was not contacted by anyone at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and this decision was solely up to them.” Rep. Stearns inquiry is legitimate, considering that in January 2011, a worker at a Planned Parenthood clinic in NJ violated federal law by encouraging sex trafficking. 

Critics of SGK’s decision are calling Ms. Brinker’s move “very political.” Yet, it seems doubtful that someone who lost a close family member and established a foundation that aims to assist women who have this sadly common illness, would defund Planned Parenthood for the sake of making a political move on behalf of the Republican Party. Any organization that is under investigation needs to be questioned to a certain extent, and Ms. Brinker has courageously addressed this. Planned Parenthood’s mission seems admirable: provide health services to low-income women who need assistance; however, there are suspicions that funding is going toward abortions. This is not a pro-life or pro-abortion issue: one can reasonably conclude that if Planned Parenthood uses public money to fund abortions, it is taking away from the cause of the SGK Foundation, which is to solely fight breast cancer. Moreover, it is illegal for Planned Parenthood to use taxpayer money to fund abortions, so it is completely legitimate that Komen would not want to be involved with an organization that may likely be violating the law.

Some may also argue that SGK does not use its money efficiently within its own organization anyway, distributing a large chunk of money toward marketing and salaries. This may be true, and perhaps that needs to be addressed as well, but the point is that Planned Parenthood may likely be using its money for other causes that may be irrelevant to fighting breast cancer. Furthermore, it is not as if SGK has not stopped donating money altogether. They will continue to fund other groups that resonate with its cause. 

Three Planned Parenthood clinics in Waco, TX, Orange County, California, and a clinic in northern Colorado are not affected since they are the only sources available to low-income women. So, critics may say that Ms. Brinker is not consistent about her stance. Yet, they should consider that Ms. Brinker thought about the women who may need immediate assistance without any other resources available.

President of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins said, “Susan G. Komen’s decision to stop funding the abortion industry is good news for women seeking help dealing with breast cancer.”

Melanie Wilcox