Monday, October 17, 2011

Pink Ties and Little White Lies

It is fashionable these days to show one's support for breast cancer research by going "pink." The NFL does it. My employer promotes it by allowing our pilots to wear pink ties with their normally dull black and white uniforms, while flight attendants get to wear pink shirts and blue jeans to work. Even some of our airplanes sport pink paint jobs for the cure. It is a great cause to seek to eradicate a horrible disease and I fully support the effort.

All that said, and at the risk of making myself the bad guy by throwing cold water on the cause, I believe it is imperative that those who choose to support the cause are aware of the full story behind breast cancer's most notable and public opponent -- the Susan G. Komen Foundation. This is an organization that does great work but, as my colleague at the Life Training Institute, Jay Watts, has put it, it has become more supportive of a narrative its friends follow about the world than the cause it is meant to champion.

My beef with Susan G. Komen is that, by its own admission:
"Annually, Komen Affiliates fund programs that provide breast health education and breast screenings for hundreds of thousands of low-income, uninsured, or medically under-served women via nearly 2,000 local organizations, including 19 Planned Parenthood programs."
Since this admission is buried deep in the Komen website and very difficult to find, I can save you the trouble. You can read Komen's full statement about this issue here: (Planned Parenthood Letter). Interestingly, in the place where this letter is found you can also read another letter from a north Texas pro-lifer who also supports Komen. In his letter, Norman Roberts assures us that:
As Christians, we have special obligations toward the less well-off. Those obligations would include doing what we reasonably can to see that these women get the needed mammograms. We could and should advocate that Komen affiliates make grants to groups untainted by abortion. We could donate to alternate groups directly, but there is a logical trap here. No matter how we fund these programs, in theory it frees objectionable groups of the burden and allows them to use other money for immoral purposes. The alternative is to force women to apply for needed services through groups we find unacceptable or not get the services at all. The grants in question represent a tiny fraction of the funds Komen raises, all of which, as best I can determine, go to an unequivocally noble cause.
He also makes the claim that the funds allocated by Komen to Planned Parenthood are audited carefully to ensure that they are only used for breast cancer screenings etc. I have no reason to doubt this. But it does not take much of an imagination to see that Planned Parenthood's ability to fund abortion "services" is enhanced by income they receive from foundations like Komen, even if those funds are designated for another purpose.

Both Roberts and Komen justify the foundation's support of Planned Parenthood by allowing the noble narrative of "caring for the poor" to trump the mission Komen claims to pursue because the questionable programs are only "a tiny fraction" of the immoral work that Planned Parenthood does. This is the most tragic and egregious aspect of this story -- Komen and its donors downplay their support of Planned Parenthood even as Planned Parenthood continues to promote both abortion and abortifacient oral contraceptives (OC) that increase the risk of breast cancer to women who use them. Research confirms the fact that:
women who start OCs before age 18 multiply their risk of TNBC by 3.7 times and recent users of OCs within the last one to five years multiply their risk by 4.2 times. TNBC is an aggressive form of breast cancer associated with high mortality. 
"Although the study was published nine months ago," observed Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer," the NCI, the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and other cancer fundraising businesses have made no efforts to reduce breast cancer rates by issuing nationwide warnings to women." (Source: Medical News Today story, "Researcher Finally Admits Abortion Raises Breast Cancer Risk In Study That Fingers Oral Contraceptives As A Probable Cause Of Breast Cancer")
Subsidizing a "tiny fraction" of a moral evil still constitutes a moral evil. Caring for and assisting poor women with the means to protect and prevent breast cancer does not entail providing that subsidy. Please continue to "go pink." Please, please, please, by all means, donate your time, talents and finances to support the fight against breast cancer. But, until it makes the choice to end its connection with Planned Parenthood, offer that support to any source except the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

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