Issued 7 June 2006; Latest Revision 4 June 2010.
The Respect Life Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis acknowledges the beneficial work of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, formerly known as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, in the area of breast cancer detection, prevention, research and treatment. Due to its policy allowing affiliates to offer financial support to abortion providing facilities, its denial of studies showing abortion as a cause of breast cancer, and its endorsement of embryonic stem cell research, the Respect Life Apostolate neither supports nor encourages participation in activities that benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure. This position is based on the following facts:
1) Public records indicate that Susan G. Komen for the Cure (“Komen”) affiliates (Missouri is not among them) provided grants to local Planned Parenthood chapters for breast health care services as recently as 2009.1
Though Komen’s grants were for breast health care services, Planned Parenthood (the largest single abortion provider in the country) stated in its 2007-2008 annual report that 31,729 fewer breast exams and 15,560 more abortions were provided in 2007 than in 2006.2
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.
2) The Komen website dismisses the link between procured abortion and increased risk of breast cancer.3 However, multiple studies invalidate a dismissal of the link. Recent studies include those of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center4, Joel Brind, Ph.D., a professor of Endocrinology and founder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute5, and the work of Dr. Janet Daling, a leading cancer epidemiologist. Daling, a pro-choice advocate, 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.”6 As part of a comprehensive search for a cure, we encourage Komen to either fund further studies on the link between breast cancer and abortion, or avoid prematurely denying any possibility of a connection.
3) Komen endorses embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of embryonic human life, stating that, “embryonic stem cells are currently considered to have the most potential for use in the regeneration of diseased or injured tissues” for cancer stem cell research.7 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.
Based on these documented facts, the Respect Life Apostolate (RLA) does not endorse Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The RLA encourages you to contact Susan G. Komen for the Cure (5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250 ▪ Dallas, TX 75244) and call for an end to all associations between Komen affiliates and Planned Parenthood, for support of further studies on the link between breast cancer and abortion, and for an end to the endorsement of research that leads to the destruction of any human life. Our hope is that the Komen Foundation will focus all funds on research to find causes and cures for breast cancer and refuse to give financial or other support to any abortion provider or organization that promotes the destruction of human life.
The patients and families who are victims of this terrible illness remain in our prayers, and we encourage all to continue supporting all those who are suffering or in spiritual, physical or financial need. As of this publication date, we believe the following organizations support morally licit breast cancer research and prevention, however, as with all charitable contributions, we encourage you to obtain the most current information possible before offering your support.
The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute
30 Rehill Avenue, Suite 3400
Somerville, NJ 08876 USA
Coalition on Abortion / Breast Cancer
P.O. Box 957133
Hoffman Estates, IL 60195-3051
1 Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Research and Grants. Retrieved June 3, 2010 from http://ww5.komen.org/GrantDescription.aspx?CID=29029, and
2 Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (2007). 2007-2008 Annual Report (677 KB PDF file). Retrieved June 3, 2010. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/AR08_vFinal.pdf
3 Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Understanding Breast Cancer, See “Factors Not Related to Breast Cancer.” Retrieved June 3, 2010 from http://ww5.komen.org/breastcancer/researchtabletopics.html#riskfactors
4 Dolle, Jessica et al. “Risk Factors for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer in Women Under the Age of 45 Years.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers, April 2009. Retrieved June 4, 2010 from http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/18/4/1157.full.pdf+html
7 “Cancer Stem Cell Research Shows Promise (855.41 Kb file).” Frontline: The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s Newsletter. (Fall 2006). Retrieved 29 March 2007 from website.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
Originally published on June 12, 2008; Latest Revision June 4, 2010.
As the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure approaches, some Catholics are asking the question: “Should I participate?”
The following common questions were originally addressed by Msgr. Kevin T. McMahon, former archdiocesan episcopal vicar for moral and religious matters related to health care and biotechnology, and Mrs. Christina Heddell, M.T.S., former director of the archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate. The responses were recently updated by the current director, Mrs. Beth Lauver, based on the updated archdiocesan position statement.
Q. What is the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ official position on the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure?
A. The archdiocese’s official position is available on the Respect Life Apostolate’s website, STLRespectLife.org. You can also request a copy of the statement by calling 314.792.7555
The statement notes that the archdiocese does not encourage participation in the race. The archdiocese has directed its parishes and institutions not to organize any group participation in the race, because such participation, although aimed at fighting breast cancer, would lend Church support to all that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure promotes or funds. The most serious problem is that, according to the last data available, some Komen affiliates provide financial support to Planned Parenthood. Susan G. Komen for the Cure-St. Louis is not one of those affiliates.
Although this money is earmarked for diagnostic testing for breast cancer, it frees up other monies which Planned Parenthood can then use for the immoral practices which are the mainstay of its operations—contraception, sterilization, and abortion. Participation by Church groups in the race would send the wrong message; namely, that support for these evil practices can be justified by the pursuit of a good cause. People would rightly ask, how evil can such things be if the Church is willing to give any support to them? To act in a way that may lead others to accept or promote evil is to give scandal, which Jesus condemns and demands that we avoid. A Church group’s participation in the race would likely be a source of grave scandal.
Q. Does the archdiocese have any other objections to Komen?
A. Yes, there are two other very serious objections: First, Komen has encouraged embryonic stem cell research by identifying it as a promising avenue in the fight against breast cancer. Obtaining embryonic stem cells requires the destruction of human embryos, which is gravely immoral and cannot be justified for any reason. Even if pluripotent stem cells (the type that are extracted from embryos) were effective in preventing, treating, or curing breast cancer, and this is a big “if,” new techniques for obtaining such cells which do not require the destruction of human embryos are now being perfected. And, adult stem cells have been used successfully in treating a number of other diseases. We encourage Komen to support stem cell research that does not involve the destruction of human life.
Second, recent studies have found a link between abortion and breast cancer, while others have found no link. More research needs to be done to settle this question, so we find Komen’s premature denial of the connection between abortion and breast cancer to be irresponsible. Although Komen may not wish to fund such research, it is wrong for it to discourage an avenue of research that may identify factors related to abortion that can be linked to this disease. Such knowledge could aid in the prevention or cure of the disease.
Q. Why is it important that the archdiocese take this position, and why is it important for Catholics to know that the Church does have a position on Komen and the race?
A. The Church has an obligation to instruct the faithful in the moral truth, so that they can form their consciences correctly. Many people in good faith support Komen not knowing about its regional support of Planned Parenthood, of its denial of abortion as a cause of breast cancer, or of its endorsement of embryonic stem cell research. These are important facts which people must consider in reaching a judgment of conscience about their own participation in the race.
Q. How should Catholics who would like to participate in the race view the position of the archdiocese?
A. It is unfortunate that Komen has become morally tainted for the previously stated reasons. The Church has encouraged Catholics to find moral ways to prevent or cure every form of human illness and disease, including breast cancer. For this reason the archdiocese has asked those who might be inclined to participate in the run to write to Komen and to urge them to change its stance on embryonic stem cell research, and to stop funding Planned Parenthood. The archdiocese also encourages the faithful to fight against breast cancer praying for its victims and continuing to seek morally licit research organizations.
Q. Do you think that the Church may appear unconcerned about those who have been affected either directly or indirectly by breast cancer?
A. Given the Church’s own involvement in research aimed at finding a cure for breast cancer and the dedication of her health care institutions to preventing and treating this disease, it would be both inaccurate and unjust to make such a claim. Almost all of us have loved ones who have suffered or died from this disease. We share Komen’s goal of preventing, treating, and curing breast cancer, and we encourage the faithful of the archdiocese to support all morally licit programs directed to this cause.
The archdiocese appreciates the tremendous contribution the Komen Foundation has made to the fight against breast cancer. We encourage Komen to cease providing funds to Planned Parenthood, to support further research on the possible connections between abortion and breast cancer, and to stop promoting embryonic stem cell research. Should Komen stop supporting such immoral practices, the Church would no longer be in the regrettable position of having to discourage participation in the race.