By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL-ETF Director of Education & Research
When it came to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, many people were conflicted. Founded by Nancy G. Brinker after her sister lost her fight against breast cancer 32 years ago, Susan G. Komen had become one of the most visible and successful advocacy groups raising money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer.
Most pro-lifers, of course, know family members, friends, who have lost their lives to breast cancer and so were naturally sympathetic. But they also knew that Susan G. Komen was contributing funds to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion chain, undermining whatever good work they intended.
In addition, there was this lethal irony: given the cruel fact that there is a link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer, Susan G. Komen’s funding was quite possibly contributing to some of the breast cancer it wanted to cure. Put that together with a connection to an organization that performs more than a quarter of all abortion in the United States and no wonder many would not, could not support the organization and its varied fund raising projects.
News came Tuesday that Susan G. Komen has finally decided to end its support for Planned Parenthood. In its initial statement, the breast cancer advocacy group indicated its action stems from a newly adopted policy barring grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state, or federal authorities. As many pro-lifers know, Planned Parenthood is currently the focus of an investigation by Representative Cliff Stearns (R-Fl.), looking into, among other things, whether taxpayer funds are going to Planned Parenthood’s abortion activities (AP, 1/31/12).
But if you read the totality of what Komen actually said—and a follow-up YouTube video—the clear emphasis was on getting “more bang for the buck” and for sending the money to organizations that actually perform mammograms.
However when Planned Parenthood and their media machine swung into action, they talked not about what Komen’s Brinker began with in her video—that “We have the highest responsibility to ensure that these donor dollars make the biggest impact possible”—but that PPFA was “alarmed and saddened” at the decision, which they attributed to “political pressure” (PPFA Press Release, 1/31/12).
Yesterday Brinker (who is also the CEO) responded in YouTube video with a fuller explanation and a veiled critique of PPFA’s and its advocates’ misleading assault on the advocacy organization. (See below.)
Planned Parenthood says Komen had given grants of about $680,000 in 2011 and another $580,000 the year before to about 19 different regional affiliates of the abortion chain. Planned Parenthood said that money paid for nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams (less than 5% of the more than 4 million such exams the group says it performed nationwide), and 6,400 mammogram referrals. There is no indication that Planned Parenthood did any mammograms in house.
Washington Post blogger Elizabeth Flock was quick to post comments of critics calling the move “disgusting,” “anti-women,” and an “act of cowardice.” Flock linked to petitions and relayed a tweet calling for a rally to protest the decision (Washington Post, 2/1/12). Posters to the Susan G. Komen “Sound Off!” message board used words like “Betrayal” and said “I will never make another contribution to another SGK event or cause” (Los Angeles Times, 2/1/12).
Naturally, Planned Parenthood tried to turn the setback into a fundraising opportunity, announcing the establishment of a Breast Health Emergency Fund “to provide immediate funding to ensure that Planned Parenthood health centers can continue to provide breast cancer screenings and care that had previously been supplied by Komen.” That fund was kicked off by a $250,000 donation from the Amy and Lee Fikes Foundation (PPFA Press Release, 1/31/12). Lee Fikes is a well known oilman from Dallas (AP, 1/31/12) who has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrat-leaning political groups in past election cycles (www.opensecrets.org, accessed 2/1/12).
As of Wednesday afternoon, February 1, Planned Parenthood boasted to reporters from the Washington Post that it had raised more than $650,000 total in donations in the 24 hours since announcement of the funding cutoff. Never put it past the Planned Parenthood fund raising machine to figure out how to use a controversy to generate yet more income for the $ 1billion dollar a year organization
However on Wednesday, Brinker’s YouTube video shared Komen’s side of the story. Brinker called the accusations hurled at Komen “scurrilous” and “profoundly hurtful” and said they were a “dangerous distraction from the work that remains to be done in ridding the world of breast cancer.”
Saying the change had been “mischaracterized,” Brinker said Komen had a responsibility to ensure that “donor dollars make the biggest impact possible.” Part of this was the adoption of “more stringent eligibility and performance criteria,” part of which presumably is a reference to their decision not to fund groups under governmental investigation.
While being careful not to mention Planned Parenthood by name, Brinker strongly defended Komen’s policy change, calling it “necessary” to further the group’s mission.
Brinker also said that Komen was “working to eliminate duplicative grants, freeing up more dollars for higher impact programs, and wherever possible, we want a grant to the provider that is actually providing the life-saving mammogram” (emphasis added).
In other words, why give money to an organization like Planned Parenthood that refers out women for mammograms instead of just providing the money to the doctor doing the mammogram directly?
At some point, the inefficiency and waste of enriching and elevating a controversial middleman like Planned Parenthood probably no longer made sense to Komen. Having money sent to Planned Parenthood was good for PPFA’s public image, but not necessarily good for the women Komen was trying to serve.
Brinker’s YouTube video can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4oOh6JhayA&feature=youtu.be . As of this article’s writing, “dislikes” of the video were outnumbering “likes” by a more than four to one margin.
National Right to Life posted a “photo” on its Facebook page saying “Stand Up For Life! THANK YOU Komen for the Cure for defunding Planned Parenthood” and issued a statement calling for pro-lifers to sign a petition encouraging Komen to stand by its decision (available at stoptheabortionagenda.com/online-petition ) and e-mail Komen for the Cure at firstname.lastname@example.org to thank them for stopping funding to Planned Parenthood and its affiliates.
If you haven’t visited the National Right to Life Facebook page, please do so today at www.facebook.com/nationalrighttolife!
Susan G. Komen for the Cure will be under an enormous amount pressure from Planned Parenthood and their allies in the media who will be generating a lot of negative responses in the next few days. Make sure you help counter that negativity by telling Komen how much their decision to stop funding the nation’s largest abortion chain and lobby means to you!
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