Now, that Susan G. Komen for the Cure has sufficiently pissed off progressives, they've changed course and reinstated existing grants to Planned Parenthood, pissing off the anti-abortion crew they'd initially been trying to appease. But before Komen was loudly defunding— and then reinstating funding for— Planned Parenthood, they were stealthily defunding organizations that associate with embryonic stem cell research. And the financial damage from this iteration of their pro-life ideology totals in the millions.
When Komen messed with Planned Parenthood, they messed with an organization with millions of vocal supporters tired of seeing the health care provider being politically stigmatized. But when Komen's newly Karen Handel flavored muscle messed with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the University of Kansas, the US National Cancer Institute, the Society for Women's Health Research, and Yale University, last fall the only people who noticed were the researchers who were no longer receiving the more than $12 million in funding Komen had provided.
The grantpocalypse happened last November, according to Life News. After enduring years of mounting pressure from embryo/fetus enthusiasts, Komen ceased providing grants to institutions that worked with embryonic stem cells and added a statement to their website that read,
Komen supports research on the isolation, derivation, production, and testing of stem cells that are capable of producing all or almost all of the cell types of the developing body and may result in improved understanding of or treatments for breast cancer, but are derived without creating a human embryo or destroying a human embryo. A priority in our research funding is to quickly find and deliver effective treatments, especially for the most lethal forms of breast cancer, while seeking effective preventive strategies, enhanced screening methodologies, and solutions to disparities in breast cancer outcomes for diverse women.
But Komen money never directly funded embryonic stem cell research in the first place; Komen already had a policy that barred their grants from financing research involving human embryos. It seems that the move to cut funding to the above mentioned institutions was because someone, somewhere in the receiving institutions did (or was open to doing) embryonic stem cell research. Guilt by association.
Further, Komen's move to blacklist groups associated in any way with embryonic stem cell research is directly in line with what a letter from a Catholic Bishop requested the organization do. And it's also in line with— wait for it— Karen Handel's political views on embryonic stem cell research. In 2010, the then-gubernatorial candidate said,
Finally, I oppose embryonic stem cell research, which creates life solely for the purpose of destroying it. I do, however, strongly support adult stem cell research, which has produced numerous scientific achievements without terminating innocent lives in the process.
Karen Handel is neither a doctor nor a scientist, but she sure seems to have some great ideas about how doctors and scientists should best do their jobs!
Susan G. Komen for the Cure has shown it's true political colors when it comes to prioritizing the imagined feelings of a futurebaby over the health of actual living women with families, feelings, and memories, and a decision to further quietly distance themselves from embryonic stem cell research by refusing to give grants to organizations that don't expressly forbid it is telling. And it likely foreshadows a future of the sort of politicking Komen still claims to disavow.
But, to Komen's credit, they haven't yet gone totally wingnut. They haven't supported Randall Terry's bid for President, for example. They haven't spray painted "You're going to die, murderer! :)" in pink on the side of an abortion provider's garage. They've released that "you guys, we feel really bad" apology earlier today. And as of this writing, Komen doesn't officially buy false anti-choice notion that abortion causes breast cancer, saying via press release in October of 2011,
Scientific evidence from the most comprehensive and well-designed studies in the U.S. and around the world does not support the conclusion that induced abortion or miscarriage raises the risk of breast cancer.
But who knows how long this will last?
Update: A Komen representative reached out, saying that, contrary to what was reported by Life News, the organization does not have an anti embryonic stem cell research policy and never had an anti embryonic stem cell research policy, and that they continue to provide funds for the listed researchers.