I’m stunned, saddened and frankly a bit ticked off by today’s news that Susan G. Komen is halting funding to Planned Parenthood. I’ve been a supporter of Komen Puget Sound since 1997: I served three terms on the Board of Directors, have participated in several committees and currently co-chair the annual auction. I’ve literally helped raise millions of dollars to provide breast health education, screening and treatment services for women in Western Washington. I’m also a big fan of Planned Parenthood, and always felt these two organizations were well-matched when working together to address challenges in women’s healthcare.
One of the things I’ve always admired about the Puget Sound Affiliate is that their grant funding criteria is based on priorities determined by a community needs assessment. They deliberately fund organizations that are best positioned to serve women in the vastly different communities in Western Washington. For those of us who live in the greater Seattle area, access to health care screening is pretty easy, even if you need financial assistance. For women in rural areas however, there are few options for low-cost healthcare and Planned Parenthood often fills the role of provider.
Last year, Puget Sound awarded a $52,000 grant to Planned Parenthood to provide breast exams for underserved women in Clallam County, and I know they’ve funded grants in Whatcom, Skagit and other counties in past years. Komen’s extensive grant review process and stringent reporting requirements tell me that Planned Parenthood does a good job running these programs.
While I was mulling over Facebook and Twitter reactions to today’s news, a co-worker stopped by and asked me what I thought about all this.
- I feel Susan G. Komen, at a national level, is being short-sighted and limiting the ability of some of their affiliates to fund critical breast health screening in the communities they serve, and I’m going to tell them that (you can too: 972-701-2168 or firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d also love to hear how they propose those gaps be addressed.
- I suspect Planned Parenthood is going to see a short-term bump in contributions in response to this news. Unfortunately, the investigation that prompted Komen’s actions will probably drag on for a long time.
- I also suspect there will be a decline in Komen donations and event participation, which will impact their ability to fund other grants to other organizations. A very unfortunate chain reaction.
I’m going to continue to support Komen.
Here’s why: I know our local Komen affiliate is the best organization in Western Washington at raising breast health awareness and funds for research, screening and treatment programs. I know there are at least a dozen organizations besides Planned Parenthood that rely on Komen Puget Sound funding to provide mammograms, or hold much needed support groups. I know there are women who need the type of financial assistance provided by the Komen Patient Assistance Fund to avoid being evicted while going through chemo. And I know there are active research programs and studies that are funded by Komen. I will continue to support both Komen and Planned Parenthood, because I believe both organizations provide much-needed services. But I’m not going to be quiet about it.
What are you going to do?