Reform Movement to Komen on Defunding of Planned Parenthood


Though the Komen Foundation announced that it would award no new contracts to Planned Parenthood clinics, Brinker denied that Komen was actually “defunding” Planned Parenthood, a technical point based on the fact that a few grants have yet to expire.

This afternoon, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director of the Women of Reform Judaism, sent a letter to Ambassador Nancy Brinker, the founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

We urge you to use your leadership in Komen for the Cure to reinstate funding to PPFA for breast cancer screening, to reconsider the standard by which the organization makes funding decisions, and to continue to fight for the health and lives of women everywhere.

The full text of the letter follows the jump.

Dear Ambassador Brinker,

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, with membership of more than 1800 Reform rabbis, and the Women of Reform Judaism, which represents more than 65,000 women in nearly 500 women’s groups in North America and around the world, we write to express our disappointment in Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s decision to halt its longstanding partnership with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, thereby withholding funds to fight breast cancer where they are most needed.

Komen for the Cure has helped hundreds of thousands of women in the fight against breast cancer, and has educated millions, bringing the once taboo and closeted subject of breast cancer into the public domain. Indeed, the global impact that you and Komen for the Cure have had was precisely why we were so pleased to bestow upon you the Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award at our recent Biennial convention. And this is why we are so deeply disappointed by Komen’s decision to cease funding mammograms provided by PPFA in the face of a politically-motivated investigation unrelated to PPFA’s breast cancer screenings for vulnerable women.

At the same December Biennial, the Women of Reform Judaism honored PPFA President Cecile Richards and applauded PPFA’s work to advance women’s health. It is painful for us now to see politics and partisanship interfere with and undermine efforts to support women who lack the resources they need for preventive medical services like mammograms. Each year Planned Parenthood’s network of more than 800 clinics nationwide provides nearly 830,000 breast exams. PPFA has stated that, over the past five years, 170,000 of the centers’ 4 million breast exams conducted were a direct result of Komen grants. Halting Komen grant money to PPFA is contrary to your organization’s mission and interests, directly and unfairly threatening the health and safety of women.

Upon accepting the Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award, you told the story of two women, one Palestinian and one Israeli, marching together to combat breast cancer in the first Race for the Cure in Israel. You explained with admiration that, in the course of the walk, they were able to forget the political climate that divided them and they bonded instead over the common cause of women’s health. We now urge Komen to follow their example by rejecting efforts to sow division among women’s health advocates and providers and refusing to sacrifice the lives of women on the altar of political ideology.

We understand that this funding decision comes from a new standard employed by Komen for the Cure that defunds organizations under government investigation. While we understand the desire to have an objective policy in place, this particular standard is misguided, threatening more than just grants to PPFA. We believe there are less partisan ways to accomplish your goals. For example, a standard that is linked to investigations carried out by law enforcement is more likely to be free of partisanship. The standard that Komen has established allows Komen’s funding decisions to be dictated by the political whims, partisanship and pet issues of individual members of Congress, who persuade their committees to launch an investigation.  This new standard may appear to extricate Komen from politicization, yet in reality it leaves the group open to even greater politicization.

We urge you to use your leadership in Komen for the Cure to reinstate funding to PPFA for breast cancer screening, to reconsider the standard by which the organization makes funding decisions, and to continue to fight for the health and lives of women everywhere.

We look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,
s
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director of the Women of Reform Judaism

A Jewish Action Plan Regarding the Komen Bigotry

Addendum

Rather than post a new story, please note that this morning Komen restored Planned Parenthood for now. Hadassah sent out a press release that they are grateful for this about face. Grateful? How about relieved and vigilant. I’m keeping my money on Planned Parenthood.

I hope the analysis below that I posted yesterday remains in your saved email to use the key points for future such situations.

The Komen situation is a fundamental abrogation of Jewish values and any breakdown along Republican and Democratic lines on this one is a dangerous and false dichotomy. I’ve today been able to speak “off the record” with several Komen employees at a variety of regional levels.

Apparently some of their staff are tendering resignations, many more are wrestling with themselves over whether to do so, given the high national rate of unemployment.

More after the jump.
The coherence of Komen’s large-scale well-orchestrated total follow-through process on breast cancer care is going to fragment, sadly, as agencies and patients debate whether to continue accepting their funding. I’m advised a woman who skips a step to avoid Komen-funded services in a care sequence, who returns later, needing funded care via Komen partnerships, can be disallowed sequence participation and funded services in some states due to existing state policies.

The Judeo-Christian Myth: Jewish Values Are NOT Synonymous with Right Wing Christianity

Let us be clear, Jews can’t have freedom of religion in a country where abortion isn’t allowed and our tradition isn’t respected. As likely you know, Judaism stipulates that the mental and physical health of the mother comes first. In our tradition, abortions are not a category of always refuse or always abort, but rather a situation by situation matter for deep reflection, study and decision by the woman. Orthodox Jews would likely seek the counsel of their rabbi, as well. The majority of Jews are not Orthodox, and so we would counsel a woman with an unwanted pregnancy to seek support and guidance if she wishes — from her rabbi, healthcare professionals, family, and, if known, the man who is source of the sperm that has resulted in the pregnancy.

Most Jews advocate responsible reproductive behavior, including the use of birth control, while at the same time encouraging those who are able and willing to have or adopt and raise children.

A Revolting Revolution

Like most revolutionary (revolting feels to be a better word) acts that attack the fabric of a given society, the Komen decision has more implications than just our pillorying and de-funding them. Emerging breaches in continuity of care must be addressed quickly by agencies like Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood for example, does mammography referrals to private and public service delivery sites, that in some states, Komen has been funding. Women’s health organizations work together, normally, to ensure continuity of coverage. So specifically, please urge Planned Parenthood to add funding or delivery of mammography to their service provision with your new or diverted donations.

Mitzvah-Centered Living is Our Credo

This is a very sad time of fissure in American society. May we all be blessed to lead inclusive mitzvah-centered, rather than self-centered lives.

Addendum

Rather than post a new story, please note that this morning Komen restored Planned Parenthood for now. Hadassah sent out a press release that they are grateful for this about face. Grateful? How about relieved and vigilant. I’m keeping my money on Planned Parenthood. Shabbat Shalom.