September 24, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Trying to understand the Catholic ban on the Komen Charity

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is an awesome organization.

It has raised nearly $2 billion dollars in less than 2 decades for breast cancer research. It also has a variety of educational programs. This is an organization that has likely saved hundreds of women’s lives and I think will save thousands of lives through its support of research.

It is no surprise then that so many people were astonished when news headlines starting showing up in the last few weeks indicating that the Catholic Church had a problem with Komen that was going public. In fact, more than a problem. Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair essentially banned parishioners from having anything to do with the Komen Foundation. Apparently other bishops had done likewise and it is to be expected that more will join in what is effectively a boycott of the Komen Foundation.

The reasoning?  Apparently there are two parts to the motivation, neither of which makes sense.

First, The Komen Foundation has in very limited circumstances helped women receive health care, having nothing to do with abortion, through Planned Parenthood. Apparently, having anything to do with Planned Parenthood is evil, even if it is helping women get mammograms.

Second, The Komen Foundation, which does not fund human embryonic stem cell research, refused when asked to rule out the possibility that it might someday fund such research.

So, first we have guilt by association and then we have guilt by some potential future action. These are very weak reasons for boycotting Komen.

Because of these faulty lines of reasoning, the Catholic Church will impede Komen fund raising, likely to the tune of millions of dollars in lost funds. I think there is a risk here that the  Church, by undercutting funding for breast cancer research and women’s health, will indirectly end up costing some women their lives.

In the Cincinnati.com article, Rebecca Johnson (a Wyoming Catholic whose family supports Komen) is quoted as follows:

Many times you throw the baby out with the bathwater when we make decisions

I think that Ms. Johnson is so right.

Regardless of how one feels about abortion or about embryonic stem cell research (which I personally think is not connected in any way to abortions), the Komen Foundation deserves support and boycotting them makes no sense.

This incident exemplifies how the anti-stem cell research folks are far off on an illogical, hurtful path.

 

 

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