After an outcry from scores of angry women (my technology-challenged mother being one of them … she actually made me walk her through the steps of how to sign an online petition because she felt so strongly about it), the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation has done a 180 on its plan to sever ties with Planned Parenthood, and all is right with the world, right?
Not so fast …
Approximately $600,000 of the foundation’s money has been used each year to pray for breast cancer screening. You don’t need me to tell you that screening leads to early detection, which leads to early treatment, which leads to a ridiculously high percentage of successful cures (if breast cancer is caught early enough, we are in fact talking cure, not remission).
What kind of highly public foundation makes a big thing about being “for the cure” (puts it into its very name, in fact) and then intentionally pulls money from the very demographic of women that need it most considering that they’re the least likely to get regular medical attention?
That’s got to be among the most asinine things I’ve ever heard.
And, yeah, it’s the A-word.
Komen, the marketing juggernaut that brought the world the ubiquitous pink-ribbon campaign, says it cut off Planned Parenthood because of a newly adopted foundation rule prohibiting it from …
… funding any group that is under formal investigation by a government body. (Planned Parenthood is being investigated by Representative Cliff Stearns, an anti-abortion Florida Republican, who says he is trying to learn if the group spent public money to provide abortions.)
But three sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut off Planned Parenthood. (Komen gives out grants to roughly 2,000 organizations, and the new “no investigations” rule applies to only one so far.) The decision to create a rule that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, according to these sources, was driven by the organization’s new senior vice president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is “pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.” (The Komen grants to Planned Parenthood did not pay for abortion or contraception services, only cancer detection, according to all parties involved.)
Breasts are pretty far away from the uterus in the geography of a woman’s body, and using an opportunity to do good–a well-established opportunity to do good–to make a political point is beyond distasteful.
The point has been made over and over again that providing abortion services is one small part of Planned Parenthood. Why some people are incapable of understanding that is just beyond me. I mean, to keep the good that Planned Parenthood does from happening because 8% of their work is abortion-related is just … well, it’s pretty much criminal, in my humble opinion.
The other reason that this whole situation is discussion-provoking is because of the very publicity of the Komen foundation. It’s a company that receives millions of dollars annually from breast cancer fundraisers because “it’s a good cause”. I always saw it as a foundation focused on a common goal–tackling breast cancer head on.
In addition to reversing the decision in light of public outcry, a letter from the Komen foundation’s Founder and CEO Nancy Brinker appeared in the Washington Post. Here’s a taste of what that epistle contained:
If I have learned nothing else from our experience of the past week, it is that we in women’s health organizations must be absolutely true to our core missions, and avoid even the appearance of bias or judgment in our decisions.
I made some mistakes. In retrospect, we have learned a lot and must now rebuild the trust that so many want to have in us, and respond to the many thousands who continue to believe in our mission and do what we do best: the funding of cutting-edge science and to bring that work to our communities to help the hundreds of thousands of women we serve each year.
You’d better believe that any future donations I make to fighting breast cancer will go to the American Cancer Society.