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Susan G. Komen halts partnership with Planned Parenthood

Today we learned that Susan G. Komen For The Cure, the nation's leading breast cancer charity, is ending its partnership with Planned Parenthood in a move that will result in a major loss of funding for breast exams at Planned Parenthood. Last year, Komen grants totaling roughly $680,000 were distributed to at least 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates to fund breast exams and other breast-health services.

Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun said the decision is the result of a new policy that bars the charity from giving grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. Recently Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla) launched an inquiry to determine whether Planned Parenthood's public funding was improperly spent on abortions, making Planned Parenthood ineligible for grants from Komen. 

In an official statement, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said: “We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure. Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count.”

As the story unfolds, however, it appears that Komen may not be kowtowing to external anti-abortion pressure, but setting a new, anti-abortion agenda for themselves as a charity. In a post on Care2, Jessica Pieklo argues that this move coincided with the addition of Karen Handel as Vice President of the Komen Foundation. In this statement from her unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Handel explains her unequivocal anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood platform.

Jewish women have a longstanding tradition of breast cancer activism. Not only because Ashkenazi women are statistically at higher risk, but because of pioneers like Rose Kushner, Jackie Winnow, Judi Hirshfield-Bartek, and Deena Metzger, who made this cause their lives' work.

Jewish women also have a legacy of feminist health activism and a history of leadership in the American birth control movement. Jewish women like Bella Abzug, Emma Goldman, Nancy Miriam Hawley, Esther Rome, Bessie Louise Moses, Barbara Seaman, Laurie Schwab Zabin, Gloria Steinem and so many others have fought to protect a woman's right to access reproductive healthcare.

So, it's only natural that this issue is a difficult one for the the Jewish women's community. We hope you will share your thoughts and reactions with us in the comments as the story unfolds.

6 Comments

Honest sincere question: is Karen Handel of Jewish descent? I'd find it hard to imagine, but she was born and raised in the DC Metro area. Any info?

I don't see any evidence that she is Jewish. Her Wikipedia page and former campaign materials make no mention of her religious background.

I was unaware of this happening, but after doing some research, I will be withdrawing my support from the SKG foundation. It's extremely sad that so many people judge these organizations (Planned Parenthood, etc) by a single procedure that they offer rather than all of the other life saving actions that they offer.

I am not Ashkenazi but I am BRCA1. I am disgusted and saddened by these turn of events. Shame on Komen.

As a breast cancer survivor and Komen supporter, I am revolted by this politically-motivated new "policy." I will now donate to PP and never again to Komen. Putting personal politics ahead of the lives of the under-privileged women.

to politicize women's health in any way, shape or form. I was an active fundraiser for SGK for 6 years, raising about $100,000 during that time. I know the women of SGK to be hardworking and dedicated and they have saved countless lives through breast screening and awareness. My philanthropy took me in different directions in the last few years, but I would be hard pressed to campaign for them now which is just a pity shame. Women should die because of this decision? No, women WILL die because of this decision. Makes me cry.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Logo
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Susan G. Komen for the Cure logo.
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Planned Parenthood, leader in women's health care.

How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "Susan G. Komen halts partnership with Planned Parenthood." 1 February 2012. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on May 25, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/susan-g-komen-halts-parternship-with-planned-parenthood>.

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