NEW YORK — The nation's leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its financial contributions of hundreds of thousands of dollars to several Planned Parenthood affiliates.
The action, which drew praise from U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., reveals a bitter rift between two iconic organizations that have provided services to millions of women.
Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, says the cutoff, affecting grants for breast exams, results from Komen’s bowing to pressure from anti-abortion groups. Komen says the key reason is that Congress is investigating Planned Parenthood.
The Komen grants, which totaled about $680,000 last year and $580,000 in 2010, went to at least 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates, designated to be used for breast-cancer screening and related services.
Vitter lauded Komen’s action, saying: “This is a welcome, long-overdue decision that will make Komen more effective in the fight against breast cancer, which is why I wrote a letter to Komen’s founder and CEO last May urging her to take this step. Komen does tremendous good by supporting education and research to fight breast cancer, and it was clear that their association with Planned Parenthood was unnecessary to advance that core mission.”
Vitter noted that his wife, Wendy, “saw firsthand the terrible effects of this disease at a young age, when her mother passed away from the disease. It’s always been an issue near to Wendy’s heart and mine to do everything we can to support the fight against breast cancer and I think this decision by Komen is a step in the right direction.”
Wendy Vitter is president of the board of the Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans and has been on the board for more than 20 years. The association provides medical equipment, vital prescription medications and financial assistance for bills to cancer patients who otherwise would have to do without. CAGNO is also a leader in providing education to people about prevention, screening and treatment options.
Before Komen cut its contributions to Planned Parenthood, the cancer charity “had provided millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood to pay for breast health services for low-income and uninsured women,” according to a news release from Vitter’s office. “However, according to media reports last year, Planned Parenthood affiliates in the U.S. do not own or operate mammogram machines, and Planned Parenthood instead used Komen funds to reimburse outside providers who offered mammograms.”
Thus, Vitter had sent a letter to Komen founder and CEO Nancy Brinker urging her to end Komen’s association with Planned Parenthood and give the grant money directly to mammogram providers.
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