Breast cancer
A landmark breast cancer finding could revolutionise treatment options. Reuters

In an attempt to blunt the criticism against its decision to cut funding for the Planned Parenthood, the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Cure denied the influence of political views in its decision.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday, chief executive Nancy G. Brinker justified the foundation's decision and said that its new directives were intended to ensure better use of the funds.

The controversy erupted over Komen for Cure's decision to cut its annual funding for Planned Parenthood's breast cancer awareness and prevention program. The issue has brought the debate on pro-life and pro-choice to the forefront.

The Komen Foundation announced that its decision to withdraw the funding to the Planned Parenthood had nothing to do with abortion rights or politics.

The foundation decided to end the funding for the pro-choice women's' group, citing a new policy that barred funding to any groups which are under federal or state investigations. The Planned Parenthood is under Congressional investigation after a group of Republican representatives accused it of using federal funds for abortions.

Nevertheless, the supporters of the Planned Parenthood accuse that the Komen Foundation has singled out the pro-choice group for its stand on abortion rights.

The Planned Parenthood also provides guidance and facilities for women who wish to make a choice on their unwanted pregnancy, apart from providing screening and reference facilities for women on breast cancer.

They allege that Komen is politicizing the issue and targeting the Planned Parenthood bowing to pressure from anti-abortion groups.

The fact that the Komen has taken its decision to stop funding to the pro-choice group even before any wrongdoing from the agency's side was proved in the investigation points to its bias towards the Planned Parenthood.

The Planned Parenthood supporters also point to the role of Karen Handel, senior vice president of public policy at Komen for the controversial decision. An AP report, citing a source with direct knowledge of decision-making at Komen headquarters, said that the grant-making criteria were adopted with the deliberate intention of targeting Planned Parenthood and a driving force behind the move was Karen Handel.

It is a well-known fact that Handel is a pro-life supporter and had been critical of the Planned Parenthood for their position on abortion rights in the past.

While campaigning for the Georgia Governor's post, she had said all funding to pro-choice organizations like the Planned Parenthood would be stopped if she was elected irrespective of what purpose such funds were intended for.

Komen's decision to continue the funding for cancer research at Penn State University, though they are under federal investigation, is also pointed out by the Planned Parenthood supporters to prove their argument that it had acted bowing to pressure from anti-abortion groups.

However, the issue is now getting more and more politicized with both the groups getting funding and support from pro-life and pro-choice activists and political groups.

The Planned Parenthood has received $ 400,000 from donors as of Feb 1, and has received pledges for more amounts. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $250,000 to the group while criticizing the Komen of politicizing a noble cause.

The group is getting support from various women and health organizations and agencies across the country.

In a letter, a group of 26 Democratic senators urged Komen for Cure to reconsider their decision stating that such politically motivated attacks would lead to thousands of women losing access to lifesaving screenings.

Several affiliates of the Komen have also come forward to criticize its decision to cut funding for breast cancer screenings to the Planned Parenthood.

Seven Komen affiliates in California, in a letter to their congressional delegation, said: They were strongly opposed to the policy change and were working to overturn it.

Facebook and Twitter pages are also flooded with anger and concern over Komen's decision to stop funding for life saving cause.

On the other hand, Komen Foundation is also claiming that their funding has doubled after the controversial decision. The group is receiving support from the pro-life advocators and politicians for their stand against abortion.

Though the concerns are high over the negative influence of politics over women health issues, the Planned Parenthood also reports an interesting development out of the controversy.

Planned Parenthood spokesperson Tait Sye has said that the issue has helped raise awareness on breast cancer and the centre reported an increase in the registrations for breast cancer screening in past three days, according to a Huffington Post report.