Komen Controversy Rages: Twenty-Two Senators Sign Letter Opposing Komen’s Actions

Updated 10:43 am, Friday, February 3, 2012: The number of Democratic Senators to sign the letter to the Susan G. Komen Foundation has increased from 22 to 26.

See all our coverage of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s break with Planned Parenthood here.

Greg Sargeant of the Washington Post reports that the Komen controversy is “about to get significantly more intense [as] nearly two dozen Senators are set to enter the fray.”

Twenty-two Democratic Senators have signed on to a strongly-worded letter urging Komen to reverse its decision.

“That’s a significant number of Senators for a letter of this nature,” writes Sargeant, “and it makes it more likely that this fight will escalate in a huge way, if Republican Senators begin speaking out in defense of the decision, as David Vitter has. More signatories are likely.”

The letter, addressed to Susan G. Komen for the Cure Founder Ambassador Nancy Brinker, reads as follows:

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.

It is signed by the following Democratic Senators: Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Patty Murray (WA), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Barbara Boxer (CA), Maria Cantwell (WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Robert Menendez (NJ), Ron Wyden (OR), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Mark Begich (AK), Jeff Merkley (OR), John Tester (MT), Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (VT), Sherrod Brown (OH), Leahy, Max Baucus (MT), Ben Cardin (MD), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Al Franken (MN), and John Kerry (MA).

That relatively conservative senators like Begich and Tester signed the letter is testament to how broad the opposition to this decision has really become.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact press@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Jodi Jacobson on twitter: @jljacobson