Political philandering for the cure
The Susan G. Komen Foundation has come down with a case of toddler-itis frequently found in political arenas, employing the juvenile sentiment of “takesies-backsies” in its recent debacle with Planned Parenthood.
The breast cancer charity announced earlier this past week of its plans to pull breast cancer screening grants in the amount of $700,000 from Planned Parenthood, citing Planned Parenthood’s “under investigation” in Congress status as criteria for stopping funding, because the Komen Foundation had it written in their agency bylaws to not fund organizations under investigation.
However, after a particularly vicious public outcry (which brought in over three million dollars for the Planned Parenthood Breast Health Fund) the Komen Foundation has decided to reverse their decision and will continue to fund Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screening services.
Political philandering, anyone?
The Komen Foundation has an annual outreach budget of over $93 million. This budget is partially spent on those attractive and omnipresent pink breast cancer ribbons. This publicity is meant to bring in funding to support breast cancer knowledge, prevention, research and resources — such as the breast cancer screenings Planned Parenthood provides. So, when the public outcry began, the Komen Foundation soon backpedaled through their trail of threats.
Despite stating Planned Parenthood’s “under investigation status” as reason for cutting funding, the Komen Foundation, squirming under the harsh limelight, also stated Planned Parenthood’s lack of mammogram services as a reason for funding getting cut.
Changing stories after public commotion? Sounds an awful lot like what we hear from the campaign trail.
Of course, savvy citizens (or maybe even those with one eye open) understand the political context of the argument between the two women’s health giants: Planned Parenthood provides abortions. The Komen Foundation has pressure from anti-abortion activists. How to appease those activists? Remove funding from Planned Parenthood — whose abortion services, by the way, only amount for three percent of their total services provided. However, 16 percent of their patient care is dedicated to cancer screenings and prevention, and they provided over 750,000 breast cancer screenings in the past year.
Public clamor was not the only type of hullabaloo heard by the Komen Foundation. Michael Bloomberg, New York mayor, pledged $250,000 of his own money to Planned Parenthood. Numerous Komen Foundation affiliates voiced criticism against the foundation; A partner group in Aspen, Colo. declared it would ignore the Komen Foundation’s decree and continue funding its local Planned Parenthood chapter. Komen affiliates in California openly opposed the cut in funding.
Reality check: public ridicule, partner shock and negative national media attention? Time to pull back.
In a move to make Washington’s best (or is it worst?) proud, the Komen Foundation announced it would reverse their decision and continue funding Planned Parenthood. In a statement from the Komen Foundation’s Board of Directors and Nancy G. Brinker, the company’s CEO and founder, they apologized to the American public “for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives,” also stating, “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.”
Such political reasons seem to be the underlying motivation for initially cutting the funding, because after the nation’s true political bent appeared to be in favor of Planned Parenthood, the Komen Foundation reeled in their decision. Also in their statement, the organization said, “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 affect[ed] by politics — anyone’s politics.”
However, Planned Parenthood “looks forward to continuing [their] partnership with Komen partners, leaders, and volunteers and supporters.”
Obviously, the Komen Foundation did not expect such a vicious outlash — perhaps they even desired increased support. Nevertheless, their pink ribbon has been tarnished by inserting political persuasions into a women’s health context. Abortion and breast cancer are not inherently related, and should not be treated as such.