Komen Funding Brings Mammograms to Planned Parenthood Phoenix Area Clinics–Sort of

By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D. NRL-ETF Director of Education & Research

Randall K. O'Bannon, Ph.D.

In the big dust-up with Susan G. Komen, from the way Planned Parenthood confidently marshaled its forces in the media and pulverized anyone who dared to question its commitment to “women’s health,” you wouldn’t think that Planned Parenthood had any concerns about its power or image.  But news from Arizona shows that the whole debacle uncovered a sore spot, a weakness in the Planned Parenthood facade, something you can expect the always politically astute organization to quickly move to address.

The Arizona Republic reports that the Susan G. Komen’s Phoenix affiliate is giving a grant of $21,430 to Planned Parenthood Arizona to help the organization provide mammography screenings to 120 women in the Chandler, Scottsdale, and northeast Phoenix area.  The money goes towards having a mobile mammography unit visit Planned Parenthood clinics in each of those areas (Arizona Republic, 5/1/12, found at www.azcentral.com/community/nephoenix/articles/2012/04/26/20120426komen-funds-mammograms.html).

To be clear, from the story there’s no indication that Planned Parenthood has actually installed mammogram machines at its clinics. Mammograms will apparently only be available when the mobile unit is scheduled to visit, and it isn’t clear who will own or run the mobile center.

To put this in context, it is important to remember a few things that came out in the midst of the whole Komen/Planned Parenthood funding controversy.   If you recall, Komen offered two explanations for its proposed change in policy.

It said future breast health grants would not go to organizations that are under investigation by local, state, or federal authorizes—a position it quickly retreated from under enormous pressure. But Komen offered a second reason: efficiency. Its CEO told the Washington Post, “We were giving [Planned Parenthood] money, they were sending women out for mammograms. What we would like to have are clinics where we can directly fund mammograms.”

In other words concentrate their funding on areas where Komen thought it would have the most direct impact. Simply sending funds to an organization—PPFA– that was going to turn around and refer women to a third party wasn’t very efficient.  (Pssst. It isn’t!) 

Though Planned Parenthood touts the large number of “breast cancer exams” it performs each year (nearly 750,000 for 2010 in its latest annual report), it usually neglects to tell people that, as a rule, it doesn’t do mammograms, but only manual breast exams.  For those patients to actually get mammography, they had to go elsewhere.

However there is no difficulty for women who want to have abortions. They can usually get them at their neighborhood Planned Parenthood clinic or a Planned Parenthood clinic nearby.  Planned Parenthood’s “commitment” to “women’s health” typically extends just far enough to get them suction aspiration machines or abortion pills, but usually not mammography machines.  (Oh, and if you were looking for prenatal or pediatric services from this organization that celebrates “parenthood,” they’re also few and far between).

Again, nothing here tells us that Planned Parenthood has actually gone as far as to actually purchase a mammogram machine or to hire the staff to operate them or interpret the results.   The machine and the mobile unit would obviously cost much more than $21,000.  The grant apparently simply covers the cost of those Planned Parenthood patients receiving the services from the mobile unit.

What the $21,430 grant from Susan G. Komen does do, however, is enable Planned Parenthood to declare that it does indeed offer mammograms, something they’ve had great difficulty saying over the past few years, because it doesn’t seem to have been the case. That, however, did not stop the PPFA president from implying that it does.

It’s nice to know that Planned Parenthood has finally gotten around to offering mammograms to a handful of poor women in the Phoenix area.   They’ve been doing abortions there for a number of years.

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