When Susan G. Komen for the Cure decided this week to cut roughly $680,000 in annual funding to Planned Parenthood, they didn't hurt "the nation's biggest abortion provider" so much as the poorer women of color who depend on Planned Parenthood for contraceptives and cancer screenings.
Infographic via ColorLines.com. Click to enlarge.
Whether you believe Komen, who says that they made their decision based on a non-political funding rule disallowing them from funding organizations currently under government investigation, or you believe Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards when she calls Komen's decision a cowardly move made under pressure from the anti-abortion movement, it's a fact that over their seven-year partnership Komen's grants have helped Planned Parenthood provide roughly 170,000 clinical breast exams and 6,400 mammograms to women in need.
While other blogs make hay over the fact that Komen's anti-gay senior vice president for public policy Karen Handel promised to defund Planned Parenthood during her failed 2010 bid for Georgia's governorship, they're overlooking the immediate effect the funding cut will have on the women who seek Planned Parenthood's help in the first place.
According to Planned Parenthood, "75 percent of their clients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level." At over five million clients a year, that's 3.75 million impoverished people who depend on Planned Parenthood.
Cancer screenings make up 16 percent of Planned Parenthood's clinical offerings, while abortions make up only 3 percent. Applied across the board, that's 600,000 poor Americans who depend on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings each year.
Since Hispanics and African-Americans make up 33 percent of Planned Parenthood's total patient base, we can assume the people of color seeking their cancer screenings to be around 198,000. Assuming (wrongly) that half of those people are female, that's at least 99,000 women who will be affected by Komen's cut in funding.
The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society both state that Latino and black women tend to get diagnosed with late stage breast cancer more than white women, primarily because of low-socioeconomic status, lack of medical coverage and other barriers to early detection and treatment.
Luckily, the Amy and Lee Fikes' foundation has donated $250,000 to Planned Parenthood in response to Komen's move and Planned Parenthood itself has launched a Breast Health Emergency Fund soliciting donations so that Komen's cut won't affect so many.
But for an organization seeking a cure for breast cancer, Susan G. Komen might want to check if its heart is still in the right place.