Komen and Planned Parenthood’s Divorce: What have we lost?

1 Feb
Susan G. Komen Foundation

Susan G. Komen Foundation

*Mind the footnotes

Certainly you have heard the uproar about the Susan G. Komen foundation ending its donor relationship with Planned Parenthood. Both are non-profit organizations publicly committed to women’s health issues, and to advancements in screening and detection of cancers which disproportionately affect women. The roaring appears to be over concern that women’s health screening services will suffer in the absence of this funding. While it is correct to say that Planned Parenthood is losing some funding for these services, this loss is far more significant to Planned Parenthood’s public relations than its fiscal health.

According to Planned Parenthood, the organization received grants totaling $580,000 in 2010 and $680,000 in 2011 from the Susan G. Komen foundation, which has been a source of funding since 2005. 1 Annually, Planned Parenthood relies on monies from private contributions (including funding from organizations like Komen) for 21% of their total revenue.2 Grants from the Susan G. Komen Foundation represented 2.6% of Planned Parenthood’s Private Contribution Revenue in 2010, and .056% of their total revenue. (Planned Parenthood’s largest source of revenue is “Government Health Services Grants & Reimbursements,” which comprised 46% of their total revenue in 2010.)

Critics of the decision have decried the decision as alarming, and according to those like Jackie Speier (D-CA12), “Komen’s decision hurts women—it puts politics before women’s health. @komenforthecure should be ashamed”. 3 In a statement to the Associated Press, Planned Parenthood’s CEO Cecile Richards hails their shared mission of “saving women’s lives,” and that the severance is “hurtful”. 4 Social networking sites such as facebook and twitter are abuzz with the allegedly surprising news, and rumors are soaring regarding the foundation’s reasoning behind the termination.

What is interesting, beyond the iconic significance of the severance, is the (really) scant involvement of Planned Parenthood with breast cancer screenings to begin with. First of all, Planned Parenthood does not offer mammograms at any of its locations but only makes referrals for these services. At some Planned Parenthood affiliate locations, women are able to receive Clinical Breast Exams (similar to self-breast exams, but performed by a clinician). However, in these cases Planned Parenthood is able to bill insurance (including Medicaid) for any “covered” services including preventative care services such as CBEs, which comes back to Planned Parenthood in the form of Reimbursement Revenue. For these insured women, the same screening is available from a primary care provider. For women who are uninsured and unqualified for public insurance, many programs exist for free screenings through community organizations such as YWCA and Mayo Clinic, as well as low-cost family planning clinics such as Family Tree Clinic of Saint Paul, and Southside Community Health Services in Minneapolis.

Women’s preventative health is a concern for individuals and policymakers alike, but to put the access debate in perspective: The American Cancer Association recommends Clinical Breast Exams for women in their 20’s and 30’s only once every three years and yearly mammograms beginning at the age 40.5 For those women who are in their 20’s and 30’s and have not been screened in the past three years, Planned Parenthood is only one of many options for preventative care screening. For those women over 40 who are uninsured and in need of a mammogram, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program is a federally funded program through the Center for Disease Detection which offers free screening to women over 40 in all 50 states. The Minnesota Department of Health’s cancer screening program is called “Sage.” Sage has over 400 partnered clinics in Minnesota where women who are uninsured and earning an annual income of up to 250% of the federal poverty level are eligible for full coverage of screening and treatment. 6

What Planned Parenthood has lost is truly significant in the domain of public relation, and yet fiscally speaking the loss for the company is miniscule at best. Equally so, I remain unconvinced that individual women like me have lost much of anything.

-Emily Stevens

1  CBS News (February 1, 2012). Susan G. Komen cuts ties with Planned Parenthood. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57369527-10391704/susan-g-komen-cuts-ties-with-planned-parenthood/

2   Planned Parenthood Annual Report (2009-2010). Combined Statement of Revenue, Expenses and Changes in Net Assets. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/annual-report-4661.htm

3   Forbes (February 1, 2012). Susan G. Komen pink slips Planned Parenthood – who, what and why? http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2012/02/01/susan-g-komen-pink-slips-planned-parenthood-who-what-and-why/

4   NPR (January 31, 2012). Komen charity ends grants to Planned Parenthood. http://www.npr.org/2012/01/31/146160911/susan-g-komen-halts-grants-to-planned-parenthood

5   American Cancer Association (2011). Guidelines for early detection of cancer. http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/FindCancerEarly/CancerScreeningGuidelines/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer

6   Minnesota Department of Health (2011). About the Sage Screening Program. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/hpcd/ccs/screening/about.html


8 Responses to “Komen and Planned Parenthood’s Divorce: What have we lost?”

  1. lamehousewife February 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    I heard that there is a link between breast cancer and abortion. Do you think this might be part of the reason?

    • Emily February 2, 2012 at 12:07 am #

      It has not been proven that any such connection exists.That theory developed in response to the fact that breast tissue changes in response to hormonal changes induced by pregnancy. If a women carries a pregnancy to term or miscarries, the breast cells return to a normal state, whereas if a pregnancy is ended unnaturally it is believed by some that those cells might remain in a sense “suspended” in a state of vulnerability to dysplasia. It’s an interesting theory, but it has never been publicly validated.

    • lauren February 2, 2012 at 10:26 am #

      Go here to learn more About the link between breast cancer and abortion.

  2. Danielle February 2, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    To lamehousewife, I wish that were the reason. What I read is that Komen will not fund organizations that are under investigation. Since Planned Parenthood is under investigation they are not eligible for funding from Komen.

    To Emily, actually the connection between breast cancer and abortion is fairly well documented. I believe that mainstream news sources do not like to acknowledge these studies because abortion is a major industry. For more information about these studies see: http://www.abortionbreastcancer.com/abc_summary.htm and click on “Epidemiological Research.”

    • lauren February 2, 2012 at 10:28 am #

      I should read all the comments before leaving a comment

  3. The dude February 2, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    1-  The Komen Foundation is large and well established.   I would venture to guess that it is well aware of its donor base.  As such, I trust the organization’s thought long and hard about this decision.  2 – Any organization has a duty to its donor base and all stakeholders to maximize its mission.  What does this mean? Using a dollar as wisely and prudently as possible.  For Komen, I am sure its mission is related to finding a cure, early diagnosis and raising awareness of breast cancer.  Thus, one should ask if PP is the best place to allocate dollars to further Komen’s mission?  I don’t know the answer, but given the decision to not renew/issue new grants tells me that the answer is not “yes.”  3 –  Why would Komen want to pair with PP?  At the questions face, one could argue that due to the overlapping nature of the demographic served and PP’s vast scale would provide Komen a great platform in which to further its mission. The hitch is that PP core strength isn’t breast exams. Further, is giving breast exams to an age group that is low risk to begin with the best use of resource (age class and sexual activity – the breast tissue is likely massaged regularly)?   Maybe Komen would be better served by teaming up with McDonald’s?  4 – Funding hasn’t been eliminated and Komen will fund existing grants.  5 – At the end of the day it comes down to the almighty dollar.  How can Komen raise more money(essential to operations) and use those dollars most efficiently to maximize the outcome in relation to its mission?

    Sent from the lonely, fast walker’s phone

    • Emily February 2, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

      Spoken like a businessman! I can’t help but laugh at the “breast tissue is likely massaged regularly” observation. Thanks for taking the time to respond, Mr. Dude.

  4. The Heart of the Matter Blog February 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    haha thanks Dude for the great response!

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