Arkansas Catholics asked to break ties with Komen foundation

Msgr. J. Gaston Herbert speaks to the press
Msgr. J. Gaston Herbert speaks to the press

.- Little Rock, Arkansas is the latest diocese asking its members to halt their support for the Susan G. Komen Foundation due to a portion of their proceeds being given to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States.

The Komen Foundation is an international organization that raises millions annually for the research, detection and treatment of breast cancer.  A portion of their proceeds is given to Planned Parenthood for breast exams and to educate women in their clinics.

The director of the Little Rock diocese’s Respect Life Office, Marianne Linane, stated that her office "neither supports or encourages participation" in Komen activities after receiving several inquiries from pro-life Catholics about the diocese's position.

According to the Diocese of Little Rock, several parishes and schools have hosted teams for the Komen Race for the Cure over the years.  The event attracts more than 43,000 participants to the 5K race in Little Rock alone each October. More than 15,000 people participate in the Komen race in Springdale each April. 

In a February 4 statement, Little Rock diocesan administrator Monsignor J. Gaston Herbert addressed Catholics as a way to inform them of the ties between the Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood.

“Due to its policy allowing affiliates to offer financial support to abortion providing facilities and its endorsement of embryonic stem cell research, and the continued denial that abortion may well lead to the development of breast cancer, the Respect Life Apostolate neither supports nor encourages participation in activities that benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.”

Though donors are only giving money to be used for breast exams, “Donors cannot control how an organization designates its funds. Therefore, money donated for a specific service, i.e. breast health care, directly frees up funds to support other areas of an organization's agenda, i.e. contraception services, ‘safe’ sex education and abortion services.”

The statement continued by addressing the link between abortions and an increase in breast cancer.  “The research of Joel Brind, Ph.D., a professor of endocrinology and founder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, and the work of Dr. Janet Daling, a leading cancer epidemiologist and pro-choice advocate, invalidate a dismissal of the link. Daling said, ‘I would have loved to have found no association between breast cancer and abortion, but our research is rock solid, and our data is accurate. It's not a matter of believing, it's a matter of what is.’”

Finally, the statement focused on the foundation’s support of embryonic stem cell research.  “the destruction of human life at any stage of development is never morally acceptable. Embryonic stem cell research is also unnecessary since adult stem cell research has a proven record of cures and treatments.”

The diocese also offered options to those looking to support breast cancer research.  “Rather than supporting any Komen fundraising, the Respect Life Apostolate encourages you to direct your donations to local hospitals that provide breast cancer services including detection, treatment, research and patient support groups.

“Donations made in this manner would not only stay entirely in Arkansas (25 percent of Susan G. Komen funds go to the national foundation where some grants are made to clinics providing abortion), they would eliminate the administrative funds for a middle broker. Thus, there would be more money available to spend on detection, treatment, prevention and research.”

Rebecca Gibson, a spokeswoman for the Komen foundation, told the AP that the group invested $69.6 million in more than 1,600 community-based education and screening programs during 2007. Of that, Planned Parenthood accounted for less than 1 percent of the funding, she said.

"It's insignificant in relation to all of the funding we do," Gibson said. "I think it's just really unfortunate undue attention is being shed on organizations that are providing vital services in those communities."

Little Rock is not alone in taking this stance.  Other dioceses across the country in Charleston, St. Louis and Phoenix have also addressed their concern with their parishioners.

The complete statement from the Diocese of Little Rock is available on the Respect Life Office page at www.dolr.org.

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