Susan G. Komen for the Cure's decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood — which has performed breast cancer screenings and mammograms with Komen grants for the last five years — is hitting home for clinics in Dallas, Austin and Waco.
Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region reports that its six-year partnership with Dallas-based Komen has performed 720 clinical breast exams and risk assessments for poor women under the age of 40. Over the last three years, the North Texas Planned Parenthood chapter in Dallas has used Komen dollars to provide about 580 mammograms to poor women. And in Waco, Planned Parenthood of Central Texas has relied heavily on Komen funds to screen, diagnose and treat women across 10 counties. In 2010, the federal Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program, in conjunction with Komen funding, provided 609 Central Texas women with mammograms, 292 with diagnostic services and 329 with cervical cancer screenings. Twenty-four Medicaid-eligible women with breast or cervical cancer received treatment.
Komen officials say their decision is based on a policy that prohibits them from considering grant applications from organizations that are being investigated at the state or federal level. Last fall, U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., initiated an investigation into whether Planned Parenthood had used federal funds to pay for abortions, which is prohibited.
Komen Austin Executive Director Christy Casey-Moore said her local affiliate will implement the new policy, though it will maintain funding for Planned Parenthood in the Austin region through March 31. She said Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region received $19,000 last year from her organization to provide screenings and mammograms for low-income women in Travis County.
"Locally, we have to fight to make women more breast health conscious. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re focused on," Casey-Moore said. "If policies change, policies change. Our job is to educate women on breast health."
Though Planned Parenthood considers the break with Komen a major blow, the national organization has received an outpouring of donor support. On the heels of the announcement, Dallas philanthropists Amy and Lee Fikes announced their foundation would donate $250,000 to establish a Planned Parenthood Breast Health Fund.
Sarah Wheat, the interim co-CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region, said the past 24 hours since the Komen announcement have been marked by "feelings of sadness."
"We’re going to continue to provide those breast exams, regardless of what the financial situation is," Wheat said. "We’ll be identifying other sources of funds to make sure those exams are still provided."
Though Planned Parenthood cannot re-apply for grant funding, Casey-Moore said other organizations that meet Komen's new criteria can still receive grants.