Unpacking Komen’s Split from Planned Parenthood
Earlier this week Susan G Komen for the Cure announced that they were suspending their financial support of Planned Parenthood. Officially, they cite the adoption of a new policy forbidding the funding of organizations under government investigation (which Planned Parenthood is). But many believe the move was more a result of mounting social pressure to sever ties with the nation's largest abortion chain. Despite the slanted media coverage often enjoyed by Planned Parenthood (the LA Times matter-of-factly calls them an "organization dedicated to women's health"), the backbone of Planned Parenthood is abortion. It is their financial lifeblood. And while the American abortion rate has fallen 8% over the last decade, the Planned Parenthood abortion rate has increased by 69%. They performed 332,278 abortions in 2009, and of the pregnant women who came to Planned Parenthood for counseling that year, almost 98% had abortions. Two percent received prenatal care, and less than half of one percent were referred for adoption. Without question, Planned Parenthood's Final Solution to unplanned pregnancy is abortion.
Not surprisingly, Komen's decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood (they gave them $680,000 last year) brought celebration from abortion opponents and indignation from abortion supporters. This dichotomy was perfectly illustrated yesterday on my own Facebook news feed (as I'm sure it was on millions of other feeds around the world). One of my Facebook friends posted the following your ecard:
Remember, if your organization wants to cure breast cancer, stop funding an organization that offers free breast exams. Because that makes sense.
Directly below her post was another your ecard. It was the same size and color, but expressed exactly the opposite sentiment:
Welcome to Planned Parenthood where we don't do mammograms but we will gladly give you birth control pills that cause Breast Cancer.
For my part, I can't help but feel that people on both sides of the abortion issue are making more of the Komen decision than we really should. The fact that Komen ever partnered with Planned Parenthood in the first place is strong evidence that the leadership at Komen supports abortion as a matter of public policy. No one who is ideologically opposed to abortion would partner with the nation's largest perpetrator of abortion. And do not forget that the Komen website continues to deny even the possibility that abortion is a risk factor for breast cancer, despite significant evidence indicating a causal connection. The fact that the nation's breast cancer epidemic corresponds to the nation's abortion epidemic seems lost on them–and keeps them from informing women about one of the few risk factors that is both behavior-based and avoidable. If abortion does increase a woman's likelihood of developing breast cancer, then it will be exceedingly difficult to reduce breast cancer frequency without first reducing abortion frequency.
In terms of their respective bottom lines, USA Today reports that Planned Parenthood received $650,000 in donations within 24-hours of the Komen announcement. They also report that Komen's average, daily donations have doubled since the news broke. In other words, both organizations have financially benefited from the split–which is worth considering whether you're an abortion-opponent who is celebrating this as victory over Planned Parenthood or an abortion-advocate who claims this will cripple breast cancer prevention.
A video of Komen founder and CEO, Nancy Brinker, just posted to their website in response to the controversy, reiterates the claim that Komen's new policy has nothing to do with the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortions. It has to do with the fact that they don't provide mammograms. In Brinker's words, they've decided to limit their funding to organizations that are "actually providing the mammograms." Despite Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards', erroneous public claims, Planned Parenthood doesn't provide mammograms, and that, according to Brinker, is the real problem. This, of course, leaves open the possibility that should Planned Parenthood start performing mammograms in the future, they could reclaim their grant money.
The real issue for abortion-opponents is one of ideology, and it's one abortion-supporters don't seem able to grasp. It boggles their mind why "pro-lifers" can't make a mental distinction between Planned Parenthood, the abortion business, and Planned Parenthood, the women's health care provider. Essentially, there are two reasons why such a distinction is impossible to maintain. The first is a practical one. The second is a philosophical one.
Think of it in terms of Abort73. Let's say we devoted a portion of our website to breast cancer education. Now let's say someone gave us a large donation but specified that is was only to be used for breast cancer-education, not abortion-education. How can an organization with one logistical infrastructure make such a distinction? If we're using the same staff, the same building, the same computers for both projects, then any donation that benefits one project inherently benefits both. So it is with Planned Parenthood. If they're receiving money that is tagged for "non-abortion" use, that money still benefits their organization as a whole and frees up other money that can be invested towards abortion.
The second, more central issue, is a moral one. Fundamental to Planned Parenthood's understanding of women's health care is unrestricted access to abortion. If you don't understand why this is a problem, just flip the issue. What if there was a huge pornography conglomerate, say a Playboy or Hustler, that was also operating walk-in breast-exam clinics. Would the fact that they're helping prevent breast cancer erase what they're doing to demean and objectify women around the world? Would you really be able to make a distinction between the misery and abuse perpetuated by pornography and the health benefits perpetuated by breast exams? Or maybe pornography isn't an issue you care about either. What if it was sex trafficking? If there was an international organization running a legal, but highly dubious sex brothel, and also offering mammograms, would you be able to support the one, but not the other? Would you be able to say your promotion of their breast cancer services has nothing to do with their sex trafficking? Of course not. And while pornography demeans women and forced prostitutions abuses women, abortion kills women... by the millions, before they're even born.
That is why you cannot make a mental distinction between Planned Parenthood, the abortion clinic, and Planned Parenthood, the health clinic. The Nazi regime provided some great services to Aryan Germans, but none of them come close to compensating for what they did at Auschwitz and Dachau. You may object to the comparison, but this is precisely what's at stake for those who are ideologically opposed to abortion.
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.