Search form


Breast Cancer Backstory: Komen's Decison to Cut Planned Parenthood Funding

Breast Cancer Backstory: Komen's Decison to Cut Planned Parenthood Funding

Update: The Komen Foundation has reversed its decision to pull breast cancer screening funding from Planned Parenthood.

I almost spit out my coffee when I read Washington Post health policy reporter Sarah Kliff's tweet today:

Definitely notable: Komen Foundation cuts off funding to Planned Parenthood b/c its under Congressional investigation.

- Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) January 31, 2012

Notable? That's an understatement, not to mention a local story in almost any community. How will Planned Parenthood affiliates in your community be affected? How do your local Planned Parenthood clinics help patients get breast cancer screenings or treatment – a matter of some controversy? Will women in your area have less access to low-cost or free mammograms – or are there other existing programs that can help? Here's a list of Planned Parenthood affiliates to get you started.

Here's how the AP's David Crary started his story:

The nation's leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates – creating a bitter rift, linked to the abortion debate, between two iconic organizations that have assisted millions of women.

The change will mean a cutoff of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, mainly for breast exams.

breast cancer, abortion, planned parenthood, susan g. komen, reporting on health, health journalism
Predictably, both sides of the abortion debate had plenty to say about Komen's decision. Planned Parenthood said Komen caved under pressure from anti-abortion groups, while some pro-life bloggers praised the decision. Komen maintains that it has cut off funding because Planned Parenthood is the subject of a congressional investigation.

Writing in Slate, Amanda Marcotte reflected the dismay of many pro-choice advocates:

Anti-choicers have tried to create a rift between women's health advocates who focus on breast cancer and those who focus on reproductive health concerns below the waist. Today, they had a victory with Komen's act of cowardice.

Kliff tweeted that Komen's decision is likely more significant than the Republican push in the Republican U.S. Representatives to defund Planned Parenthood, which so far have been blocked. She quickly pulled together an impressive analysis, concluding:  

In some ways, the Komen decision isn't particularly surprising. The group has been under pressure from anti-abortion rights groups not to fund Planned Parenthood. It also hired a vice president last year who had previously advocated for the group's defunding in her run for Georgia governor. With a congressional investigation underway, Komen pulled its support. And when private institutions move to cut off Planned Parenthood's funding there's not much Democrats can do. The only possible backstop here might be pressure from Planned Parenthood supporters pushing back in the opposite direction.

Update: The Komen Foundation has disabled downloading of its photos on Flickr (what you see above is a stock photo), as have other Komen Race for the Cure supporters. Story for anyone?


According to Planned Parenthood, the engine driving the defunding campaign is California's Rep. Stearns: "In abruptly pulling nearly $1,000,000 in funding for breast cancer screenings, the Susan G. Koman foundation cited a sham "investigation" into Planned Parenthood launched by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns, one of the most militant anti-choice members of Congress. You may recall the so-called investigation was launched by Rep. Stearns last fall after Congress failed to pass bill after bill to defund reproductive health services to women." -- Planned Parenthood

Leaders within the Susan G. Komen for the Cure should be ASHAMED and donors should curtail funding until the organization cleans up its act. According to, Komen for the Cure uses 20% of funds for Administrative and Fundraising expense, leaving only 80% to fund Program expense which is comprised of both education and health care components. Komen website states "we are committed to ending breast cancer forever by energizing science to find the cures and ensuring quality care for all people, everywhere." Yet your actions of hiring Karen Handel and recent decision to curtail providing funding for low-cost breast screening performed at Planned Parenthood facilities prove this to be untrue. Considering your organization is focused on cancer preventative education and early detection healthcare, it is irresponsible that Komen hired an UNHEALTHY woman to make grant-award decisions. Being that Karen Handel is OBESE, her very presence emanates her INABILITY to make wise health-oriented decisions. You can find alternative high quality breast cancer research, education and screening charities to support at or

Does PP provide mammograms? I heard that the screenings they provide are more like coaching to do self-exams.

Leave A Comment


Medicare is facing a demographic tsunami of Baby Boomers. And seniors are living longer, with more disabilities. What will this mean for Medicare’s long-term finances? This webinar will look at the major challenges facing Medicare in the coming years. Sign up here.

We've opened recruitment for our all-expenses-paid 2016 California Health Journalism Fellowship, to be held in Los Angeles March 6-10, 2016. Apply now for a $1,000 reporting grant and five days of information-packed seminars, workshops and field trips on California's health care challenges. Click here for details.

We’ve grown considerably since we began in 2004 at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism, and we’re thrilled to announce we now have a new name and new look for our website, formerly known as Reporting on Health.


Member Activities

Michael LaForgia has shared a fellowship project

Read it.

Liza Gross has added an award to their profile

Michelle Levander has shared a blog post

Read it.

Samantha Caiola has shared a blog post

Read it.

Lisa Pickoff-White has shared a blog post

Read it.
More Member Activities

Follow Us