Give Komen the Pink Slip: Five Ways to Support Women's Health for All
News broke Tuesday afternoon that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, the omnipresent charity battling breast cancer, is pulling hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of grants it had awarded Planned Parenthood to fund cancer screenings. The official reason? A new rule forbids the organization from funding any group currently under investigation in Congress. (Planned Parenthood is being investigated by legislators who oppose abortion rights and want to make doubly sure federal funds aren't being used for abortions). But many assume Komen caved to anti-abortion activists, and possibly to anti-choice higher-ups within the foundation.
At best, this decision is spineless. At worst, it's cruel. Rescinding the Planned Parenthood funding implies that the only women who deserve to receive breast cancer screenings are those who can afford a private doctor. Three million women and men visited Planned Parenthood last year. Over the past five years, Susan G. Komen allowed the health centers to provide nearly 170,000 breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals.
If you're pissed off, show it with your dollars—even if you can only part with a few of them. And afterwards, be sure to tell the Komen Foundation where your money went.
Donate to Planned Parenthood. The obvious choice is to compensate for what Planned Parenthood has lost. The organization received $680,000 from Susan G. Komen last year alone, and virtually every dollar was used for breast exams. That leaves a gaping hole in their funding. Help fill it here (and make sure to mark it "for breast cancer screenings").
Support a breast cancer organization with some integrity. Not every organization will sell out women's health to please anti-abortion rights legislators. Some anti-cancer advocacy groups make their feminist messages explicit and central. Breast Cancer Action, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and the Women's Community Cancer Project are three that have genuinely feminist roots.
Help the women the Komen Foundation has ignored. Awareness isn't enough—some women just can't afford breast cancer screenings. Women of color and poor women will be hurt most by the foundation's decision. Donating to places like the African American Breast Cancer Alliance or Black Women's Health Imperative will help these women get the medical attention they need.
Prop up a pro-choice, pro-woman organization. A strike against Planned Parenthood is a strike against women's health in general. If breast cancer is too specific a cause for you, donate to a women-centered organization that provides crucial sex and health information, like Our Bodies, Ourselves or the National Women's Health Network.
Support your local women's clinic. Planned Parenthood is the most ubiquitous group of health clinics in the country, but there are other local women's health clinics that provide breast exams, and they're likely struggling even more. Places like the Chicago Women's Health Center or the Cedar River Clinics could really use some cash, too. Or donate to your local abortion fund—access to a safe abortion may be more of a political lightning rod than breast cancer screenings, but it's no less essential.