Susan G. Komen: For the Cure, or for the Concern?

Kathleen Sheridan, AP Lit Set 4

 AHN’s volleyball team, and recently the swimming and diving team, gained support for breast cancer awareness and raised thousands of dollars through their annual “Play and Swim for the Cure.” So why did the name change to “Spike and Splash for the Cure” this year?

Volleyball player Annie Swanson, who reinvented this year’s Spike and Splash, said, “We had a problem with fundraising at last year’s Play for the Cure because Tampa Catholic would not advertise for the event since the money was going to Susan G. Komen.”

The issue with Susan G. Komen:  the organization supports Planned Parenthood.

The challenge facing AHN and their former support of Susan G. Komen rested in the fact that Planned Parenthood supports abortions for women.  AHN teacher Mrs. Sawyer acknowledged that “the organization has the right to support women’s needs. However, as Catholics, we have to look at that with a close eye.”

Dr. Eric Winer, Chief Scientific Advisor for Komen, maintains that Planned Parenthood grants them the ability to provide breast exams to the community’s poor, uninsured women. He assures that their donations only go to breast screenings, treatment, and education.

AHN teacher Sister Ann Regan argued that research equates to curing breast cancer, and the struggle involves getting around the fact that Susan G. Komen “is highly publicized and very effective compared to smaller groups.”

Dr. Angela Lanfranchi writes in Research Bulletin about a separate issue that heightens concerns with the connection between Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood:  the abortion–breast cancer link. Whereas Komen denies the risk factors that result from abortions, Dr. Lanfranchi states, “After undergoing a full-term pregnancy… over 70% of the breast tissue is now the cancer resistant Type 3 lobules.”

Hannah Carter, director of education for Georgia Right to Life, adds that “the increased exposure to estrogen after an abortion could increase risks of breast cancer as well.”

The message that Sister Ann tries imparts to her students focuses on  the importance of research. AHN student Marisa Petrick admitted that she was not always aware of where the money goes to when she donates.  Mrs. Sawyer added, “I have learned from experience to be diligent in my research.”

After learning about the concerns from Tampa Catholic, Swanson researched the Florida Catholic Conference Paper on Charitable Giving, where “many charitable organizations are listed as ones Catholics are not supposed to donate to because they are not consistent with Catholic Church teachings. Susan G. Komen for the Cure is listed.”

When looking into other organizations, Swanson said, “We had very positive feedback when we decided on donating to Moffitt because it kept the money that was donated in our community.”

Annie Swanson has provided AHN with a prime example of how we, as a Catholic and faith-based community, should respond to a questionable organization. Faith and research can combine as one entity to guide choices that the AHN community makes to benefit the rest of society.