David R. Henderson  

Rena Henderson on the Komen Controversy

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If you've followed the news on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure controversy lately, you know that it has been getting a lot of flak. The foundation had been sending funds to Planned Parenthood to finance breast-cancer screenings and decided not to send further funds while Planned Parenthood is under investigation. Many people have expressed a lot of outrage.

My wife, Rena Henderson, is a breast-cancer survivor and is active on the Susan G. Komen website. She wanted to write what follows below on that website but she decided that there's no point in doing so because the volume and nastiness on that site are too high. Lots of name calling, lots of people refusing to think about what others are saying, etc. So she posted it on Facebook. I read it and decided that it's worth posting here. It hits some themes that I've discussed in the recent past. Here it is:

Yes, the free and/or low-cost breast cancer screening that Planned Parenthood has provided, in part through grants from the Komen Foundation, is very valuable. I wish Komen had not withdrawn its funds, although I don't know what else they plan to do to help uninsured/underinsured women get potentially life-saving screening. Hopefully something good. However, I don't understand the narrow vision people have--i.e., that, somehow, Planned Parenthood is the only option. Granted, it's the best known and probably the most easily accessed. But there ARE other options. I just Googled "foundations that provide funds for breast cancer screening" and found many that I'd never heard of. In my own community, we have the Carol Hatton Memorial Fund. I donated to it yesterday. Why not find out if your community has such a fund and do the same? In the old days, we depended on the generosity of individuals. These days, we seem to expect either the government or one large organization like Komen to do it all. I wish the people who are spending their time flooding the Komen message boards and preventing women with breast cancer from getting the support they need would shut their mouths and open their wallets. If you can't afford a lot, then give a little. And for crying out loud, do a little research!


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COMMENTS (9 to date)
Bostonian writes:

Supporting research on and treatment of breast cancer is worth doing to save women's lives, but nowadays it often appears to be political gesture to show that one is a good, compassionate person who cares about women. In this environment, outcomes are often ignored. Do mammograms reduce mortality from breast cancer? Some recent research has found that they do not, as described in an article "New Drugs Trump Mammograms for Fewer Cancer Deaths, Study Says" from Bloomberg.

Devil's Advocate writes:

David, she should post it far and wide...it's a great observation. One comment: are the alternative options she mentions of the same quality, ease of access, and reputable as Komen? My point is the level of service matters. That's why I like COSTCO more than Sam's Club. Maybe a bad anology since both are unsubsidized by Uncle Sugar.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Bostonian,
Good question: I don’t know the answer.
@Devil’s Advocate,
Thanks. I think of this Econlog post as posting it far and wide, at least compared to her other options.
Re your questions, I’m not sure.

Bryan Willman writes:

One aggravation in all of this is that planned parenthood does a number of things that aren't about abortions (breast cancer screening being one of them.)

My understanding is that they offer advice and material support related to birth control - which of course would be a key means to not need an abortion in the first place.

But of course the political heat is about abortion, if PP never had anything to do with that they'd get much less opposition, and of course lose some part of their most vocal support.

Ken B writes:

As Bryan notes, the real crux of the case is the coupling of PP to abortion and (to a lesser extent) birth control. PP is fundamentally an advocacy group on those issues. The rest of what they do is in service of that, and will be sacrificed for the institutional imperative. It will be interesting to see if some savvy anti-abortion group decides to mimic PP's other services from the same motive (good will and influence).

Liam McDonald writes:

Standing and applauding.

Aggie writes:

[Comment removed pending confirmation of email address and because the comment made no sense. Email the webmaster@econlib.org to rewrite and restore this comment. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog and EconTalk.--Econlib Ed.]

Cari Beth writes:

Ken said,
"It will be interesting to see if some savvy anti-abortion group decides to mimic PP's other services from the same motive (good will and influence."

In my town alone, there are at least 3 pro-life family planning centers that do exactly as you have stated. Pro-choice people regularly protest outside all three of them.

The good will is there and always has been. The problem is that PP is immersed into the political realm and there is no going back.

another david writes:

Amen to that.

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