Posted on Apr 13, 2012 | by Tom Strode
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Susan G. Komen for the Cure's coffers remain as open as ever for Planned Parenthood, even as they appear to be taking a hit.
The world's leading breast cancer charity will fund about the same number of Planned Parenthood affiliates this year as it did last, according to an April 12 report by The Washington Post. That news follows various accounts that giving to Komen and participation in its popular fund-raising races have declined since early February.
The latest report follows by 10 weeks Komen's tumultuous place in the spotlight of public attention over whether it would stick with its plan to defund the country's leading abortion provider. Only three days after its defunding decision went public, Komen backtracked Feb. 3 in the face of an onslaught of Planned Parenthood-fueled outrage.
Komen will fund at least 17 affiliates of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America this year, The Post reported. Last year, Komen gave money to 18 Planned Parenthood affiliates, according to an analysis by the pro-life American Life League. The total given to Planned Parenthood this year has yet to be determined, according to The Post. Last year, Komen's grants to Planned Parenthood affiliates totaled $680,000, the Associated Press reported.
Since the report of Komen's on-off defunding of Planned Parenthood, there have been reports of declines in support of the breast-cancer foundation. For instance:
-- Six of Komen's Race for the Cure fundraisers had been held since the controversy, when National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast a report March 26, and the charity acknowledged it had struggled to meet its goals in about half of the events.
-- Registration for the Komen Race for the Cure March 25 in Tucson, Ariz., fell short of 7,300 in contrast to about 10,000 participants in 2011, according to NPR. Donations totaled $585,000 toward a goal of $700,000, The Post reported.
-- The Los Angeles (Calif.) County race March 24 raised about $950,000, far short of the $1.3 million goal, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
-- Komen fell from No. 2 to No. 56 in the yearly Harris Poll that ranks the "brand health" of nonprofit organizations, The Chronicle reported. The online survey was conducted in February.
While news reports have at least implied the decline is based on the reaction of pro-choice women who are disillusioned with and untrusting of Komen, pro-life blogger Jill Stanek questioned the conventional wisdom. She pointed to a report that donations to the charity increased by 100 percent in the two days after its defunding of Planned Parenthood became news.
"It would have gone the other way had liberal types withdrawn enough support to make a dent," Stanek wrote March 29. "In fact, pro-lifers who had withheld from Komen [in the past] started to give. And then stopped, of course. An objective [mainstream media] would have more likely concluded Komen's new fundraising woes were due to its continued connection" to Planned Parenthood.
Komen has problems with both abortion advocates and opponents, Stanek said.
"In reality, Komen has alienated both ends of the ideological spectrum now," she wrote. "But it would have fared better sticking with pro-lifers."
Some pro-life advocates had refused before the uproar of early February to give to Komen or participate in its five-kilometer runs/walks that typically draw more than 1.6 million participants each year. Komen had defended its grants to Planned Parenthood affiliates by saying they were not for abortions but for breast screenings and breast health education. Planned Parenthood affiliates, however, do not offer mammograms, though Komen said grants to the organization may pay for mammograms at other sites.
The widespread news coverage of Komen's original decision to halt funding, the Planned Parenthood-orchestrated reaction and Komen's subsequent policy change served a couple of educational purposes for the public:
1) More Americans, including pro-life advocates, learned the breast cancer foundation gives to Planned Parenthood, increasing the likelihood pro-life support of Komen would decline further.
2) More Americans found out Planned Parenthood centers do not offer mammograms but refer women to other clinics for the screenings.
Planned Parenthood is a cultural lightning rod primarily because of its massive abortion business. Its clinics reported 329,445 abortions in 2010, which made up more than one-fourth of the lethal procedures performed in the United States for the year. Planned Parenthood compiled those kinds of statistics while it, as well as its affiliates, received $487.4 million in government grants, contracts and reimbursements in 2009-10, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
Planned Parenthood's notoriety has mounted also because of its proclivity for scandal.
An updated February report by the Alliance Defense Fund to Congress suggested 20 percent of the abortion provider's affiliates could be guilty of waste and fraud involving government funds. The report showed that audits of seven of 79 affiliates over a 14-year period found nearly $8 million of fraud, waste and abuse.
Secret investigations in recent years by pro-life organizations have uncovered Planned Parenthood workers demonstrating a willingness to aid self-professed sex traffickers whose prostitutes supposedly are in their early teens, seeking to cover up alleged child sex abuse and agreeing to receive donations designated for abortions of African-American babies.
The House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating Planned Parenthood. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R.-Fla., who is leading the investigation, asked Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards in September to provide audits, documentation, policies and procedures regarding such issues as improper billing, segregation of federal funds from abortion services and reporting of suspected sex abuse and human trafficking.
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.