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Playing politics with health

How incredibly disappointing that a stellar champion in the fight against breast cancer has allowed the politics of extremism to dictate how it distributes grants.

The Associated Press broke the news this week that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has cut its funding to Planned Parenthood for breast health screenings, based on what is the pure politics of reproductive choice.

Ostensibly, the Susan G. Komen Foundation cut off its grants to Planned Parenthood ($680,000 last year) because the charity had adopted new criteria barring grants to organizations under investigation by local, state or federal authorities.

And U.S. Representative Cliff Stearns, R-Florida, has launched an inquiry into whether public funds were improperly spent on abortions. Stearns’ probe is about as subtle as a punch in the face in terms of political motivation. Letter for letter, the concerns he raises in his probe match a report from the antichoice group Americans United for Life.

Perhaps the charity might consider regulations that cut off funds to organizations that are found guilty of something – rather than to organizations that can be held hostage to the kind of political gamesmanship that sacrifices women’s health to one congressman’s agenda.

Planned Parenthood, as anyone who has ever entered their offices knows, is far more than an abortion provider. Planned Parenthood provides breast health screening, screening for sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, pregnancy testing and cancer screening.

It is wrong to sacrifice women’s health on the altar of the battle over reproductive choice in this country. And the Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity is wrong to accede to this type of political pressure. So now what? All who are affected by breast cancer and are offended by this decision will no longer contribute to Susan G. Komen for the Cure? That is a bad solution.

But what other solution is there to send the message that allowing reproductive choice to become a political football is wrong and unacceptable?

What a shame that a venerable and exceptional and effective organization such as this charity would prove to be such a disappointment.

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