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The Lesson Behind the Komen Debacle

by ACNM Guest Blogger Jennifer Williams, CNM

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have been on call 24/7 for the past couple of days, it’s unlikely you’ve missed the news coverage of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to pull its funding for breast cancer screening from women who seek care at Planned Parenthood. The initial announcement was met with quite a reaction, and many people expressed concern that this decision was based on an ideology to no longer support Planned Parenthood due to the fact they provide abortion services. The Komen Foundation stated that their decision was based on the fact that an investigation has been opened into Planned Parenthood, but others felt this was a red herring.

The Komen Foundation reversed their decision and state they intend to fulfill the current funding needs and will evaluate future funding requests from Planned Parenthood.

My local Planned Parenthood has been a beneficiary of funding from the Komen Foundation for many years. Women who are uninsured could call and make an appointment for a clinical breast exam, which was paid for through grant dollars from the Komen Foundation.

The loss of this grant funding would have prevented women from an entry point into care for breast exams and further workup, affecting women in my community.

During the recent kerfuffle, Planned Parenthood reports they have received donations that far exceed the temporary loss of funds had the Komen Foundation not changed their mind—dollars that will continue to provide a safety net and access to breast care.

I’ve read on message boards and blogs many passionate comments about this situation, but the ones that strike me the most are from women who live in countries with socialized medicine. They marvel that we have women in the United States who lack access to basic care.

I recently experienced my own bout with cancer. Once a problem was detected, I was sent to one of the top specialists in my state and received top-notch surgical care at one of the area’s premier hospitals. I am a lucky one. I have health insurance. My situation was not due to breast cancer, but I cannot imagine what it must feel like to note a breast lump and have to make decisions based on when and how to go see a health care provider—knowing that you need to decide between groceries, rent, and healthcare.

The Komen Foundation has funneled donated and money raised from American citizens to address breast cancer education, research, and clinical care. Planned Parenthood has been able to use that money to provide screenings for women in need. This is supposed to be a safety net for the women in the community.

Now we know that the safety net provided by the Komen Foundation might as well be made out of cotton candy. Komen’s flip-flopping on how they distribute money meant to help women fight breast cancer is a problem, but not the biggest problem. The biggest problem, and the lesson we should keep in mind, is that women deserve a safety net that will not melt away at the first drop of rain. It’s wonderful that people donate to causes to help women. It’s tragic that the use and availability of these donations depend on the political whims of organizations. Our mothers, sisters, and daughters deserve better.

Image via WeNews
Posted 2/6/2012 10:28:27 AM



Any opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. ACNM is not responsible for accuracy of any of the information provided by guest bloggers and/or members via the Comments section. We welcome all feedback – including comments, ideas and suggestions. We also welcome civil, friendly debates. However, any and all content that is deemed inflammatory or rude will not be posted.


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