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Statement from Women’s Media Center on Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood

February 2, 2012

NEW YORK– The Women’s Media Center is deeply disappointed with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation’s decision to cease funding breast cancer prevention, education, and screenings at Planned Parenthood health centers. We urge our friends and supporters to join us by standing in solidarity with Planned Parenthood Federation of America and all of the women and families they serve to ensure that almost 750,000  women in rural, underserved, and low-income communities continue to receive comprehensive and accessible preventative care.

The Komen Foundation provides an important voice and services in the movement to find a cure for breast cancer.  We applaud them for this work but are troubled by the foundation’s public explanation that the decision to cease funding Planned Parenthood had nothing to do with abortion politics.

Since 2005, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and STOPP (most recently known as the Society To Outlaw Planned Parenthood), have pushed a very public campaign aimed at ending Komen Foundation funding of Planned Parenthood services for breast cancer screening.  Dr. John Willke, a former President of the National Right to Life Committee has promoted a STOPP research report about the Komen Foundation support of Planned Parenthood (http://www.lifeissues.org/AbortionBreastcancer/komen/fact_sheet.pdf).  In October, 2011, Carol Tobias, the President of the National Right to Life Committee, wrote a column for Legatus Magazine that criticized the Komen Foundation with sentences like, “Komen’s support of the nation’s largest abortion provider is ironic in that, while Komen works to find a cure for breast cancer, Planned Parenthood is providing a “service” that contributes to the increase of breast cancer.”  [NOTE:  According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, over 100 of the world's leading experts have concluded that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman's subsequent risk of developing breast cancer Summary Report: Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop]

The National Right to Life Committee was originally created by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the President of the National Right to Life Committee has a platform and megaphone that extends far beyond the NRLC federation of 50 state right-to-life organizations and 3,000 local chapters nationwide.  In light of the public campaign against the Komen Foundation by the anti-choice movement, it is difficult to understand how the decision by the Komen Foundation is not related to abortion politics.

From a media perspective, the enormous outcry by women everywhere on Twitter, Facebook and blogs indicates the Foundation’s media team and leadership miscalculated the public’s reaction to their decision. Politico reports that in a video posted yesterday, Nancy Brinker, the founder and CEO of the Komen Foundation, said that the decision had been “mischaracterized” and that “the scurrilous accusations being hurled at this organization are profoundly hurtful.” (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/72360.html)

The Women’s Media Center is a pro-choice organization and fully supports the movement to find a cure for breast cancer.

The Women’s Media Center urges the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to respond to press inquiries about the long-time anti-choice campaign for the Komen Foundation to stop funding Planned Parenthood to clarify that there was in fact no connection between a highly orchestrated anti-choice campaign and the decision of the Komen Foundation to end its support of Planned Parenthood for breast cancer prevention, education, and screenings.  The firestorm from this decision is not going to go away until the obvious links and questions are fully discussed.

–Julie Burton, Women’s Media Center President

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