The Susan G. Komen Foundation's decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood has set off a firestorm of debate across the country. Some Komen chapters have rebelled and several top Komen executives have already resigned in protest. So it's no surprise that in Miami -- where we don't even have to disagree to fight -- tensions are high.
Komen's local Facebook page has been flooded with angry comments (and some in support, too). Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood South Florida has raised thousands of dollars in two days.
UPDATE: Komen announced this morning that it was reversing its decision, thereby restoring breast cancer funding to Planned Parenthood. "That is what is right and fair," the group's founder, Nancy G. Brinker, said in a blog post.
"People have been walking into health centers all day, giving checks for $25, $50," says local Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Judith Selzer. "The outpouring of support has been heart-warming."
Komen announced Wednesday it was pulling millions of dollars in funding for Planned Parenthood -- grants used for breast cancer screening and awareness mostly for low-income patients. For years, the organization has been under pressure from Pro-Life groups for its association with Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions.
Komen has denied that its decision had to do with abortion politics, but critics say that its excuse -- that Planned Parenthood is "under investigation" -- is flimsy. One angry, right-wing Republican Congressman does not an investigation make.
(UPDATE: Nancy G. Brinker wrote the following this morning: "We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.")
A spokeswoman at Komen South Florida said she couldn't comment for this blog. Messages left with national headquarters were not returned.
But a look at Komen's Facebook page for its South Florida chapter reflects the national mood: many former Komen supporters are furious and clearly believe the group has buckled to political pressure. Some have said they stop supporting Komen, or give their cash to Planned Parenthood instead.
"Politics should never get in the way of women's healthcare, whether it's breast cancer screening or providing abortions," Selzer says.
Still, the controversy hasen't exactly hurt Planned Parenthood. Selzer said South Floridians had donated thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of dollars since Komen announced its decision. Nationally, Planned Parenthood has raised more than $400,000 in donations. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that he was giving a cool $250,000 by himself.
But Selzer says she'd rather end the feud and get back to working with Komen to make sure young women learn how to check themselves for breast cancer.
"I am hoping that over next few weeks we'll be able to work with the local Komen chapter to continue funding," she says. "The implications of this funding cut are really severe. The real victims are the thousands of women who rely on the life-saving services we provide. That's why we are hopeful that Komen will reconsider its decision."
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