DALLAS, TX—Michelle Smiths knows the devastation of losing a loved one to a terrible illness. Three women in her family died after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I know what that kind of pain and grief feels like," said the Rockwall mother.
Still, despite the personal loss, Smith won't take part in any of the events associated with the popular Susan G. Komen Foundation, which raises millions of dollars every year for breast cancer. Smith who is pro-life disagrees with the organization's decision to provide funding for Planned Parenthood, one of the biggest abortion providers in Texas.
"We should use that money in better ways like providing comprehensive services for women and mammograms."
It is being called the "pink ribbon scandal". Last year of the $93 million Komen raised to provide grants to about 2,000 organizations across the country for research and treatment, about $600,000 was given to 19 Planned Parenthood facilities. Officials say that is one percent of the money raised.
But, critics of Komen say that Planned Parenthood is one of the few organizations receiving Komen funds that doesn't provide mammograms. Those procedures are referred to outside facilities. Planned Parenthood provides what is called a "breast exam", where a qualified person manually checks for any abnormalities.
"Komen has no business associating with an abortion business," spokesperson for Texas Right To Life, Rachel Bohannon, said.
Bohannon's group is spearheading an online petition drive. Already the effort has collected about 5,000 signatures, intended to send a message to Komen officials and open eyes.
"We have had so many calls and emails from people who didn't know this was going on. These people are pro-life and they say they can't support Komen anymore."
But, officials with the Komen Foundation say the race events raise huge amounts of money that help thousands of women. They say funds are not used to pay for abortions or reproductive services.
As for Smith, she speaks to lawmakers on behalf of Concerned Women For America. She hopes to do the same with Nancy Brinker, the founder of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Brinker started the organization after losing her sister to breast cancer.
"I pray that she would look into organizations that really can put an end to breast cancer."
A Komen spokesperson also says the organization audits group's that receive funds to make sure the monies are being used in the proper way.