October is the month for lots of color, and I am not just talking about the beautiful shades of oranges, reds and browns found on the trees this time of year. I am talking about pink. October is not only Respect Life Month, but also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Outside of Catholic media and a very few select health-related websites, rarely do we see or hear anything about the connection between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer. But we sure see a lot of pink. Pink ribbons are plastered on everything from soup cans to yogurt containers. The big pink push is part of the annual effort to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an organization that has strong ties to the No. 1 abortion provider in the nation, Planned Parenthood.
That’s why I hope more Catholics follow the lead of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, which directed parishes to end support of Komen and instead to support the work of Karen Malec at the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer and Dr. Angela LaFranchi at the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute.
It is troubling that the relationship still exists between Komen, considered the top breast cancer research organization in the country, and the leading provider of something that greatly increases the breast cancer risk. For years Komen denied any connection, but then claimed it donated to Planned Parenthood because the group offered breast cancer screenings for women.
I never bought that line. I was well aware that Planned Parenthood facilities only did referrals. I confirmed this by routinely calling Planned Parenthood facilities and asking them. The answer was always the same: “We do referrals.”
Earlier this year, some Komen insiders tried to cut ties with Planned Parenthood. Komen was beginning to feel the heat as negative stories about other problems at Planned Parenthood began to surface. Within a week, Komen reversed course. The pressure was apparently too much.
That’s why the decision by the Archdiocese of Atlanta to support the Coalition on Abortion and Breast Cancer and the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute is a win-win on several fronts. The organizations strive to do nothing but raise awareness and give women the complete story when it comes to the damaging effects of abortion and birth control — especially as it relates to breast cancer. They struggle to raise money because they speak the truth.
The archdiocese is giving a platform to beautiful efforts that, for the most part, have been voices in the wilderness. But they are voices that need to be heard and proclaimed from the housetops. Catholics in Atlanta can also be assured that their hard-earned money is going to organizations that are absolutely in line with Church teaching.
Archdiocesan communications director Pat Chivers told EWTN News the decision was in response to many Catholics who wanted to support breast cancer research in October.
“We’re actually having an opportunity to speak out in support of human life and we are encouraging parishes and individuals to participate in breast cancer awareness activities but not with Komen because they support Planned Parenthood.”
Perhaps the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s wise approach to the wearing of the pink will have Komen seeing enough red that it will finally drop ties to Planned Parenthood. In the meantime, two worthy breast cancer research organizations finally will get some of the attention and the funding they deserve.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.