Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Komen Denver affiliate rejects ban on Planned Parenthood grants

For many years, the regional Planned Parenthood headquarters was Westword's neighbor, and we had a front-row seat for the picketers who harassed employees of an organization that does so much more than providing abortion services.

In many parts of this state, Planned Parenthood is the only source of women's health care, including breast-cancer screenings.

That didn't matter when the state pulled the plug on funding these clinics, and again when the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation ended its partnership with Planned Parenthood. But it mattered to people across the country who support both Komen and Planned Parenthood's services -- and to the tens of thousands who join in the local Race for the Cure every fall, showing support for not just the fight against breast cancer, but access to health care for all.

As news of the national Komen organization's decision to sever its long-term affiliation with Planned Parenthood spread, outrage grew almost as fast as the crowds line up at that race. The issue involves much more than money; Komen's grants only amounted to $700,000 for Planned Parenthood across the country last year.

Yesterday, the Komen Denver Metropolitan Affiliate revealed that it had a different view of the national move, sending out this statement:

Komen Denver opposes National's decision

The Denver Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure appreciates the outpouring of concern from our passionate supporters, volunteers and community members and values each and every opinion. The Komen decision on changing granting strategy and performance criteria was made on a national level and the Komen Denver Affiliate was not part of this decision.

When the Denver Affiliate first learned of the change in grants strategy, which effectively disqualified Planned Parenthood as a grantee, we immediately requested and were granted an exemption to this policy for the grant cycle beginning April 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013 pending the Grant Review Committee and Board of Directors approval of their grant application. This was the first step in our fight to reverse this decision.

We are now embarking on a campaign to tell Komen National to reverse their decision and allow local Affiliates the right to determine what is best for their communities.

Komen Denver Affiliate has funded Planned Parenthood consistently since 2009. Each year, their grant was reviewed by the Community Review Panel and recommended for funding by the Affiliate's Board of Directors. Planned Parenthood is a strong partner of Komen Denver Affiliate helping to ensure women have access to breast cancer screening.

With donations from our supporters, the Affiliate grant awarded to Planned Parenthood in 2010 was responsible for finding 19 percent of the breast cancers discovered through Komen Denver funding. They provided breast health/cancer education to 2,264 women, 601 clinical breast examinations and referred and paid for 57 mammograms. 125 women were referred for additional diagnostics.

Each year, 75 percent of the net proceeds from the Komen Denver Affiliate's fundraising go to local programs. In the past 20 years, Komen Denver Affiliate has invested more than $28 million in Colorado communities. Komen Denver Affiliate is dedicated to supporting low income and uninsured individuals in our community and we will continue to help ensure that all women have access to quality breast health care.

Please join us in our effort to reverse National's decision by calling or emailing Ambassador Brinker at 972.855.1600 or [email protected] to tell her to reverse the decision and allow local Affiliates the right to determine what is best for their communities.

John DellaSalle, Board President

Michele Ostrander, Executive Director

On behalf of the Denver Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Board of Directors and Staff

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains sent a quick, and grateful, response:

DENVER -- Tonight Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains applauds the brave and courageous move by the Denver and Aspen affiliates of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to put women's health above a politically-motivated decision that would have halted funding breast cancer prevention, screenings, and education at Planned Parenthood health centers in Colorado.

"The decision by Denver Komen and Aspen Komen to break from its national office over a poorly-thought out policy sends a strong signal about the importance to do what is best for our communities. Both Planned Parenthood and Komen share a common goal and vision - and that is to advance women's health," said PPRM President and CEO Vicki Cowart. "We know people depend on both our organizations to serve and support low income and underinsured or uninsured individuals across our state."

Planned Parenthood health centers in Colorado, in an average year, care for 1,000 patients through Komen funding, several hundred of whom are referred out for additional diagnostic services. Women often receive breast healthcare through reproductive health care providers and as part of well-woman annual exams, making it especially important to ensure that safety-net providers like Planned Parenthood are able to offer these critical prevention services without interruption or delay.

"We hope tonight sends a strong signal that when it comes to the issue of women's health, there is no room for politics," said Cowart.

Colorado isn't the only place where the move has been controversial; all the Komen affiliates in California oppose the decision of the national office. The New York Times has a comprehensive account of the controversy that the Denver Post reprinted today; you can read it here.

Kenneth and Jo Scott have been frequent protesters of Planned Parenthood facilities. Late last month, the Justice Department's request for a preliminary injunction against Kenneth, who'd been charged federally with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, was turned down. Get details in "Kenneth Scott, abortion protester: Injunction rejected, attorney calls it precedent-setting."