Five high-ranking executives of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer foundation have resigned from their positions since the aftermath of the organization’s decision to eliminate its funding for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), which it later reversed and restored. Komen spokesperson Leslie Aun shared the following in response to inquiries about the resignations.

“Obviously, we know some folks are upset. We’ve certainly seen that,” Aun stated. “We know people have been upset by the recent events, but most really do recognize the importance of our work.”

Indeed, Komen has invested more than 1.9 billion in breast cancer research and activism. It’s currently the largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists, working together to save lives, empower people, fight for quality healthcare, and support scientists pursuing breast cancer cures.

Point blank, Komen has been there for countless women, many of who were shocked to hear it would even consider defunding Planned Parenthood. But nonetheless, a controversial and unpopular decision doesn’t take away the fact that Komen has empowered and assisted women and families all over the world battling breast cancer. And for that reason alone, perhaps we should consider the path of forgiveness.

As Planned Parenthood’s funding stands restored by Komen due to intense supporter and media backlash, there are still large amounts of women battling breast cancer that depend on Komen. I remember when my mother was battling breast cancer before it took her life in 1993. The treatment opportunities are better for contemporary breast cancer fighters compared to options that she had to choose from. And I credit those improvements to organizations like Komen who have relentlessly invested in breast cancer research while empowering those affected by the disease.

Of course, I was disappointed to hear that Komen chose to defund Planned Parenthood, as I also support PPFA for the impact that it’s made in providing excellent healthcare for women across the country. But women’s organizations, particularly in the field of healthcare, need the support of women now more than ever, as women’s healthcare continues to take the forefront in legislative battles across the United States.

Komen is still a major force in women’s health care on a global scale, and one mistake does not make a horrible organization. Can we criticize them when they make bad decisions that impact women’s access to healthcare? Absolutely. But we also shouldn’t ignore all of their accomplishments, both in the past and present.

If Komen stays on track to raise and invest millions more in breast cancer research, support a powerful network of breast cancer survivors and activists, and doesn’t have any additional lapses in judgment, perhaps they deserve our forgiveness. They certainly wouldn’t be the first organization to ever make a mistake. After all, humans run Komen.

Do you still support Komen after the Planned Parenthood defunding controversy? Drop your thoughts.

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  1. Yes I do! Susan G Komen is great resource for women and I will support them regardless of this very minor issue.

  2. As a breast cancer survivor, I NEVER STOPPED supporting them!

  3. This is an excellent read. Susan G Komen is in the position where a lot of huge foundations find themselves-a restructuring time that happen to be in a bad time, an election year. Foundations don’t actually help most of the causes their represent but they do raise awareness so that people can have conversations they may not have had otherwise, similar to a website like this. I hope they push through because I want to believe that Nancy Brinker started this foundation with the right intentions. Again very nice article.

  4. @Bonnie: There is nothing ‘very minor’ about playing politics with the funding of life saving services for women. At ALL. A stalwart org like Komen having leadership that can be shamed into ceasing to fund an org that it has long supported because of political posturing is deserving of the outrage it received. Like everything else, this too will blow over…and hopefully it will have taught Komen a very important lesson.

  5. I never considered the issue a political one in spite of appearances and might have beens. As far as I’m concerned both PP and Komen are charities. They both do good and important work. The US is supposed to be a free country and people can give to what ever cause they want regardless of the reason. One of the things PP was being investigated for was the misuse of funds contributed to them so I don’t really find it very amiss that sponsors might hold funding until something like that is cleared up.

    If you’re spending money that you’re entrusted by those who support you as a charity yourself do you really want to have it come out that money you spent on their behalf to fight breast cancer went to something else? Does it really matter if it was for abortions or tampons?

    No one close to me has died of cancer though the possibility that someone will one day is always a possibility. I have known several people over the years, however, who have died of cancer so I understand how important the fight is and from reading up on them how important a role Komen has played in the battle against breast cancer.

    I should say that, personally, I don’t feel that abortion is something that should be used as a contraceptive. There are enough alternatives out there that the risk of pregnancy should be reduced to almost zero if some combination of them are used so I support PP in promoting that knowing that it will reduce the call for women to have an abortion. This is my personal view and I’m not an activist about it and to me abortion isn’t political unless someone is trying to force me or someone who disagrees with it to pay for it or force someone to stop providing or get one legally. The situation with Komen doesn’t meet either criteria so, to me, it isn’t political and I choose to view it that way.

    There was no harm done even if Komen had not restored funding to those few PP sites affected since other sponsors made up the funding for the rest of the year even before Komen reversed their decision. Yet the ongoing impact to Komen is threatening the support they provide to those who need it to battle breast cancer. Just remember that when you attack a good charity it’s not the people working in the charity (volunteers for the most part) you’re ultimately hurting but the people that charity helps.

    Whether the charges about Karen Handel pursuing the end of funding PP is true or not, and I suspect that she had some influence in the decision, ultimately I have to look at the importance of the work of both organizations and consider the harm done to PP by Komen’s decision. Since (no surprise really) other donors stepped up to make up the funding in the first few days I see no harm done to PP or those they’re helping. The people they screen at those locations probably wouldn’t have realized there was a potential interruption in service were it not for the media storm regarding it so why all the condemnation?

    PP is about reproductive services and Komen is dedicated to fighting breast cancer. Both are important so lets stop wasting time making this political and get back to helping them fulfill their mandate and save lives.

  6. OK, I forgive them. However, I will never again be able to donate or support the organization without researching its expenditures and associations. As that extra process is very expensive in time and resources – most likely, I will support other non-profits that have not chosen to fiddle with poor women’s health in the name of politics and then attempt to deflect responsibility.

    I have now had my eyes opened, good luck in trying to get me to forget what I saw.

  7. I support Susan G. Komen 100%..always have and always will. They are in fact *human* and it’s crazy to think they would EVER leave vulnerable women behind. That’s just spin from all the election year special interests. A lot was missed in the news coverage and they found themselves in the “culture wars” during a election year. It is my personal belief that they where so focused on protecting breast cancer funding from any controversy on either side of the spectrum that they did not stop to think though the political implications. I totally give them the benefit of the doubt because THEY SAVED MY LIFE! Thank you Nancy Brinker for the promise you made to your sister that launched this movement. Now let’s all move on together because lives depend on it. Thank you.

  8. No. My decision wasn’t based only the politics. It was because I learned so much about the organization:
    1. They sued small charities who used “for the cure”. What a waste of donor dollars.
    2. The executives make to much money IMO.
    3. They partner with large companies whose products cause cancer! What’s that about???
    4. Most important, for me, is they don’t spend enough money on research. To find the cure, you need to figure out the cause.

    I have found other organizations which focus mostly on research so they’ll be getting my cancer $$.

  9. I can forgive Komen. But I doubt that I’ll ever be able to donate to them again. My wariness goes much farther than their political decision to cut funds to Planned Parenthood, and the ham-handed, insincere apologies that followed. The scales have fallen from my eyes. I won’t give to them again because Komen partners with ethically questionable corporations, such as KFC buckets for the cure. Because Komen protects its own brand so vigorously that it’s willing to spend $1 million spent annually on lawsuits against other cancer charities. Because most of Komen’s funds (the funds I’ve helped raise for them) go toward “awareness” — that is, promoting the pink ribbon on product after product, from spatulas to carcinogenic perfumes — and not to research. Because Komen bans giving funds to embryonic stem cell research, one of the most promising avenues of research in finding, you know, an actual cure. This is why I won’t donate to Komen again. I’d much rather give my hard-earned cash to more effective organizations that actively fund cancer research.

    • @Emily: “Because most of Komen’s funds don’t go to research”??? $1.9 BILLION to research, and that’s not including all the community grants that come from all the Affiliates. If you actually take time to look at where the money goes besides that HUGE number that goes to research (and if you go on your local affiliate’s website you can see a list of grants), it goes to screening, treatment, transportation, wigs/prosthetics, (all for under served women) educational materials… the list goes on and on. It’s not just “awareness”. In fact, very little of it could be something considered awareness by what your definition seems to be.

      You realize that Komen doesn’t PAY to get pink ribbons on things, right? Companies that sponsor Komen (ie. give money to Komen) are then *allowed* to use the pink ribbon on their products as a way of saying “we supported Komen”. So in fact, when you see that pink ribbon, Komen (or any other organization that does this) did not PAY for it, they GOT PAID… and that money goes right back out to research and to the uninsured women in our communities.

      Also, just curious, where’d you see that they ban funding to embryonic research? Is that an actual fact, or just something you’ve heard? It seems that people take most things they hear as fact these days without actually finding out if it is or not. I do this myself, and I know I’ve certainly found out later that I was totally wrong. If you really care about this I’d definitely suggest taking the time to call the organization and find out for sure either way.

      Obviously it’s fine to decide not to donate money to Komen, but please make sure you have the actual facts before bashing them publicly. I’m sure if you called your local affiliate they’d be happy to give you lots of details about where the money goes and how all of those things work so that you can feel confident you have a complete understanding.

      The fact is that any organization out there will have things about it not everyone will like or agree with. To me, the important thing is who is having the most impact on the cause? From all I’ve learned, Komen seems to be it for Breast Cancer, which is a cause near and dear to my heart, and that’s why I choose to support them. There are many organizations that deal with BC and most of them are fantastic, but I’ve personally found that Komen stands a notch above the rest in terms of its actual impact, and that’s what I think matters the most.

      If you don’t, that’s fine. But like I said, if you DO really care about the cause (and if you’re so upset, I’m guessing you probably also hold this cause close to your heart), I’d really make sure you know the *actual* facts before deciding where to donate your money or time. Why don’t you call up your affiliate and ask them things you aren’t sure about? At least you can be sure about how you feel about the organization after that!

  10. Absolutely not. They have turned a scary disease into a three-ring circus. I am humiliated to have to have dealt with one of the most over-marketed diseases out there. Thanks to Komen, I can’t walk into any store without seeing a reminder of the crap I have dealt with. I want NORMAL, NOT pink ribbons.

    Even worse, the things they have NOT done. All the time and money and no cure. Ignoring phone calls and emails from those who need help. Humiliating those who just want to get through this. Insisting on the term “survivor” (please, I didn’t survive anything but a boatload of nasty doctor visits)! The Planned Parenthood deal was the last straw. I am glad the rest of the world is realizing what I have known for years: Komen doesn’t care about anything but money. Why else would they partner with companies like Yo-Plait and KFC? Who puts that junk in their body and would ever feel good about it?

    And who sues other small profits that NEED the money? Shameful, Komen, shameful. Breast Cancer Action? Yes! Komen? NEVER!

  11. $1.9 Billion??!! Where’s the Cure?

  12. A lot of people have complaint in long messages that Komen is not giving enough to “research” I think people fail to put in to perspective that they provide a lot more than research, like transportation to treatment, mammograms, grocery bills to underserved women going through treatment, etc. etc. They have dozens of programs that make up their community health and education work related to breast cancer. All that said, no matter what % they put towards “research” out of the total pot they are still the LARGEST NON-PROFIT FUNDER of breast cancer “research” IN THE WORLD. Only the US Federal Government gives more. This is a fact. Komen is the LARGEST NON-PROFIT funding breast cancer research period. Thank you.

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