By Courtney M.
Just a few days ago, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest organization for breast cancer awareness and fundraising, made the announcement that they would no longer continue their long-standing support and partnership with Planned Parenthood. Though Planned Parenthood is certainly no stranger to controversy and remains an active player on the political stage, this particular incident has become nothing short of a PR nightmare for Susan G. Komen. People are pissed off—and rightfully so. For far too long, women (and especially the uninsured women of low-income brackets Planned Parenthood predominantly serves) and their bodies have been used as political pawns and, given the overwhelming backlash against SGK’s decision, it seems as though they’ve had enough.
Synonymous with abortion and “baby-killers,” those who are obnoxiously active and vocal in the pro-life movement fail to realize or accept, that in the spectrum of services Planned Parenthood provides, abortion constitutes only 3% while cancer-screening and prevention makes up a solid 16% of the organization’s efforts. Regardless, the facts (as laid out in the pie chart above) don’t seem to matter much now that conservative Karen Handel has been appointed as Komen’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy. Handel, as you may or may not recall, is buddy-buddy with Sarah Palin and has been a long-time crusader against the mission and medical services Planned Parenthood continuously provides. Scoffing at the idea of this move being (justifiably) construed as political and entirely conservative-based, Nancy Brinker, SGK’s founder and most prominent ambassador, has been clinging to straws trying to assure everyone that this particular decision was made because Planned Parenthood no longer fit their “revised” grant criteria.
Is it just a coincidence that Susan G. Komen has now decided to revoke their sizable monetary grant and partnership with Planned Parenthood because of “new granting strategies” in the wake of this new hire? I think not. Thankfully, as anyone can see from the overwhelming outcry from the media and from Komen’s very own Facebook page, millions of others aren’t buying it either. However, just this afternoon, Susan G. Komen has made yet another announcement, apologizing (re: back-pedaling) for their controversial decision by offering the following statement:
We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives.
The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.
Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.
Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.
It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics--anyone's politics.
Starting this afternoon, we will have calls with our network and key supporters to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work. We ask for the public's understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.
We extend our deepest thanks for the outpouring of support we have received from so many in the past few days and we sincerely hope that these changes will be welcomed by those who have expressed their concern.
Which, ok, is all well and good, but now that the curtain has been drawn and the wizard exposed, people are still angry. Based on this press release, as far as I can tell, Nancy Brinker and her largely Conservative board and donor-base isn't sorry for their original decision to de-fund Planned Parenthood... they're sorry they got caught and that they got called out for it. The damage has been done and Susan G. Komen has now been officially outed as the kind of organization it really is: a dangerously conservative, ideologically-based foundation that plays politics with women's welfare and their bodies. While I personally couldn't care less about how "hurt" Nancy Brinker is, what concerns me most is that these types of political games sanctioned by the rich and played behind closed doors continue to pit women against each other... and no one wins.