The Mammogram Diversion: Is Komen Laying the Groundwork to Reject Planned Parenthood Proposals?
Is the Susan G. Komen Foundation using a "mammogram diversion" as a precursor to denying Planned Parenthood state affiliates access to future grants for breast cancer education and screening?
Komen's ostensible new strategy, to focus its prevention grants "only on mammograms," would not only exclude Planned Parenthood clinics from eligibility, but would also deny tens of thousands of low-income and uninsured women medically-indicated primary preventive breast health services and, potentially, leave many with undiagnosed breast cancers. This at a time when there is an urgent need among low-income and underserved women--those served by Planned Parenthood--for greater access to primary preventive care. Yet even despite the lack of medical evidence for the strategy, the far right anti-choice publicity machine went into high gear over the weekend in what seemed like a pre-emptive strike in support of it.
Last week, Komen created a firestorm when it said that Planned Parenthood affiliates would be prohibited from applying for the breast cancer education and screening funds they had been getting for five years. The first of what turned out to be a changing list of reasons was "a new policy" denying funding to any organization "under investigation" and specifically pointing to Planned Parenthood, which is the target of any number of witch hunts but no actual investigations. (Curiously, the new policy did not, apparently, apply to Penn State University, which is under actual criminal investigation, nor to a long list of universities and corporations in which researchers and others are under investigation and to which Komen money continues to flow.) Komen executives and board members at first vociferously denied the move was political, but they've now been caught out by emails provided to Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post which make clear that Karen Handel, Komen's anti-choice Senior Vice President of Policy, was the architect of the new policy, and by reports that former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer also was involved. Moreover, Jane Abraham, General Chair of the virulently anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List continues to sit on Komen's advocacy board right there alongside Komen Chief Executive Officer Ambassador Nancy Brinker.
Then came Part Two. As the backlash against the "investigation exception" grew out of control, Brinker came out with another reason that their grant criteria were changing: They want to focus directly on mammograms.