Leahy And 25 Other U.S. Senators Call On Komen To Put Politics Aside And Reconsider Decision To Defund Planned Parenthood Breast Cancer Screenings

Leahy: ‘Stunning And Disappointing Decision Is Also Reversible’

(THURSDAY, Feb. 2) -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is among 26 U.S. senators who are asking the CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure to reconsider the organization’s controversial decision to stop funding cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics.  Leahy has long been a leader in the Senate in advancing breast cancer research and prevention. 

Commenting on the Senate letter, Leahy said, “Though the decision to defund these cancer screenings is both stunning and deeply disappointing, it is also reversible, and I hope our appeal will be heard and accepted.”

In their letter, the senators call on Nancy Brinker, the Komen organization’s founder and CEO, to revisit and reverse the decision.  The senators wrote, “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.”

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) initiated the letter, which is also signed by Leahy and Senators 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), 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-Mich.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). 

The text of the letter is copied below:

February 2, 2012


Nancy G. Brinker

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

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.


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