US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Komen ends funding of Planned Parenthood--but what happens next?

By Scott Alessi | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

There has been a wide range of reactions to the news that Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a well-known charity devoted to ending breast cancer, has severed ties with Planned Parenthood, ending what had been a very controversial relationship. In Catholic circles, the announcement has mostly been taken as a victory worth celebrating.

For years, church leaders and pro-life organizations had warned Catholics not to support Komen, which gave funds to Planned Parenthood to provide low- or no-cost breast cancer screenings. Though Komen for the Cure never openly supported nor funded Planned Parenthood's abortion services, the connection between the two was enough for Catholics to stay away. Fundraising events were boycotted, church leaders spoke out against the charity, and dioceses took official stances against supporting Komen.

Komen reps say those objections, which have been ongoing for more than five years, aren't the cause of the split. Instead, the Associated Press reports, it stems from an investigation of Planned Parenthood by the U.S. government, which is in conflict Komen's funding policies. But regardless of the reason, pro-life groups were quick to report the news and seem very pleased that the two organizations have gone their separate ways.

So what happens next?

First, it seems only fair that bishops, dioceses, and pro-life organizations that had publicly boycotted Komen for the Cure or discouraged Catholics from donating to the charity should now rescind those statements. If Planned Parenthood is out of the picture, is there any reason to continue efforts to stop donations to Komen?

But the church can do even more. In some cases, Planned Parenthood was the only local facility where women could go for a free or low-cost breast cancer screening. These women now need other options, and the church should reach out to Komen to help them provide suitable alternatives. In theory, the funding that was going to those Planned Parenthood facilities can now go somewhere else--perhaps to Catholic hospitals, health clinics, or pro-life pregnancy centers?

The church was never against Komen for the Cure's very pro-life goal of supporting women and families by helping them to prevent, detect, and treat breast cancer. It was the church's teaching on the sanctity of all human life--and that teaching's conflict with the work of Planned Parenthood--that prevented it from supporting Komen in the past. Now that this conflict is out of the way, the church can apply that same teaching on human life to aiding in the fight against breast cancer.