Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Dream Solution to Susan G. Komen's Misuse of Donors' Dollars

Today, a story was posted at the Daily Caller that indicated that money donated to Susan G.Komen, an organization that funds breast cancer research, has given money to Planned Parenthood:
According to Hammarley, about 20 of Komen’s 122 affiliates are responsible for the money that goes to Planned Parenthood and that those funds are used only for breast cancer treatment, education, or screening programs that happen to be affiliated with the abortion group.

“Those funds are audited twice a year to make sure that the money that is invested from the Komen affiliate is being used for screening, treatment or education of breast cancer only,” Hammarley said. “If they ever find that it is either intermingled with their general fund or used specifically for something else, it is shut down. Legal action
is taken and the program is required to pay back the money.”

Hammarley went on to state that such action has never been taken.

In FY 2009 Komen affiliates contributed about $7.5 million to programs sponsored by Planned Parenthood. “That $7.5 million is less than one percent of the entire amount of community grant funding that affiliates around the country contribute,” Hammarley said.

But to people like Bordlee, the amount is insignificant. It is the principle of it. “No matter whether they are giving $500,000 a year to Planned Parenthood, or $5, people who respect the dignity of human life and are trying to save people with disease don’t want any part of their money going to an organization that is subsidizing an abortion provider,” she said.

Yes, Planned Parenthood claims that they audit the funds they receive from Komen and ensure they are only for screenings and education. However, there is always the chance that funds will be misappropriated. Additionally, when individuals donate money to an organization, they do so trusting that those funds will be used to fulfill the purposes of that organization, not funneled to a different organization (especially an organization founded by someone who believes in eugenics). If some really wanted to give to Planned Parenthood to fund screenings performed by them, they are welcomed to do so. Although I definitely don't support what Planned Parenthood does, with the current laws, it is still legal. Therefore, people still have the freedom to donate to this organization directly if they wish.

On a personal note, when I first sat down with my thesis adviser in grad school, I told her that I wanted to do a project on breast cancer in rural areas. Her exact words were, " I know you want to save the world, but you can't do it with your master's thesis". I went away feeling a bit disappointed, but I also realized perhaps it was too ambitious of a goal for a master's thesis. However, it still remained a bit of a dream of mine.

Last year, my boss at the time, who had always allowed me some independence, allowed me to draft a project on if rural-urban disparities existed in mammography and if distance from available mammography affected what stage breast cancer was detected in. It was second grant application I had ever written. I knew it was not likely to be funded. My boss signed on as the primary investigator, and as a rheumatologist, he didn't have breast cancer expertise, and as one of the other people listed on the grant was only two years removed from graduate school with only one publication under my belt. The grant did make it past the preliminary stage, but not the final stage. Our grant returned unfunded with a good deal of constructive criticism, as I still have a lot to learn about the ins and outs of research study design.

There were probably several other projects more well designed than ours that didn't get funded as well. Couldn' t they have received the money given to Planned Parenthood? The story reported that $7.5 million of Komen money was given to Planned Parenthood. A lot of research projects are granted a quarter million dollars to cover a two year study. With the money given to Planned Parenthood in FY2009 alone, thirty two-year research studies could have been funded.

Breast cancer research and eradication has always been something close to my heart. My great grandmother passed away from breast cancer in the 1960s before they had the necessary tools for early detection and treatment. A good friend's mom had it when she was in her thirties. Two people I've come to know through political blogging have had it (one recently passing on to God). With this deeply saddening news, it only reaffirms my desire to do one of the things on my "bucket list". While I've wanted to start a health care funding organization that doesn't fund projects that use embryonic stem cells, I now want to extend that mission to ensure that people would have an organization they could feel comfortable contributing to that does not funnel its funds to an organization that also funds abortions. It is a needed alternative.

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