The Senate has added to the pressure on the Susan G. Komen foundation.
Twenty-six Democratic senators today sent a letter to Nancy Brinker, the group's founder and CEO, urging it to reconsider the decision to cut funding from Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings for the poor.
"It would be tragic if any woman - let alone thousands of women - lost access to these potentially life-saving screenings because of a politically motivated attack," the letter reads. "We earnestly hope that you will put women's health before partisan politics and reconsider this decision for the sake of the women who depend on both your organizations for access to the health care they need."
Susan G. Komen for the Cure abruptly severed its alliance with Planned Parenthood Tuesday when Komen officials said would halt a grant program used to pay for breast cancer screenings and educational programs.
The organization argued that the move was spurred by a new criteria that bars it from giving money to organizations that are under investigation.
But the decision set off a firestorm, with Planned Parenthood blaming the decision on political influences, foremost among them Komen's recently ascended vice president, Karen Handel, a Sarah Palin favorite who had run for governor in Georgia two years ago on a fierce anti-abortion platform.
"This troubling decision threatens to reduce access to necessary, life-saving services. We urge Komen to reconsider its decision," the senator's letter says.
The letter sent today to the Komen foundation is signed by Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., Patty Murray, D-Was., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Max Baucus, D-Mont., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Al Franken, D-Minn, John Kerry, D-Mass., Claire McCaskill,D-MO., Debbie Stabenow, D-MI., Chris Coons, D-DE., and Jeff Bingaman D-NM.
The full text of the letter follows:
"Dear Ambassador Brinker,
We write to express our disappointment with Susan G. Komen for the Cure's decision to cut funding for breast cancer prevention, screening, and education at Planned Parenthood health centers. This troubling decision threatens to reduce access to necessary, life-saving services. We urge Komen to reconsider its decision.
Planned Parenthood is a trusted provider of health care for women and men. More than 90 percent of the services provided by Planned Parenthood are primary and preventative including wellness exams and cancers screenings that save lives. Each year, Planned Parenthood health clinics provide 750,000 breast exams, 770,000 pap tests and nearly 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases. Twenty percent of all women in the U.S. have visited a Planned Parenthood health center.
For the past five years, grants to local affiliates of Planned Parenthood have been an important part of Planned Parenthood's work to protect women from breast cancer. Komen funding for Planned Parenthood has provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and resulted in 6,400 referrals for mammograms. In 2011 alone, grants from Komen provided Planned Parenthood with roughly $650,000 in funding for breast cancer prevention, screening, and education. According to a recent statement by Komen, "In some areas of the U.S., our affiliates have determined a Planned Parenthood clinic to be the best or only local place where women can receive breast health care."
It would be tragic if any woman -let alone thousands of women - lost access to these potentially life-saving screenings because of a politically motivated attack.
We earnestly hope that you will put women's health before partisan politics and reconsider this decision for the sake of the women who depend on both your organizations for access to the health care they need."