Komen’s Capitulation is complete

Komen CEO Susan Brinker

By Dave Andrusko

If a story in today’s Washington Post is accurate, the Komen Foundation for the Cure had fully capitulated to Planned Parenthood’s muscle.

“Grants from the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure are flowing to Planned Parenthood, as the women’s health organizations seek to rebuild their relationship after the controversy in February over the breast cancer charity’s unsuccessful attempt to defund Planned Parenthood,” report Lena H. Sun and Sarah Kliff.

“At least 17 Planned Parenthood affiliates will be funded this year, about the same number that received grants in 2011, according to a tally provided by Komen. The total amount of the grants, which are for breast-cancer screening and other breast-health services, is still being worked out. Most recipients this year also received funds last year.”

The story comes complete with an abject apology. “We know that people have been upset and concerned about recent events,” [Komen] spokeswoman Leslie Aun told the Post. “We’ve acknowledged our missteps and apologized. People need to know that we have not and never will walk away from women in need. There is no one filling the gap in services the way that Komen is.”

Planned Parenthood, in turn, patted Komen on the head. “Planned Parenthood officials said they do not believe politics played a role in grant awards this year,” according to Sun and Kliff. “In some locations, the controversy has deepened the relationship, they said.”

PPFA told the Post that in 2011, its grants totaled about $680,000. In fact, more money may be on the way. Not all of the 122 Komen affiliates based their awards on the fiscal year that started April 1.

As NRL News Today reported at the time of the enormous controversy, a story was leaked to the Associated Press that Komen had adopted a policy that after 2012, breast health grants would not go to organizations that are under investigation by local, state, or federal authorities. Planned Parenthood cried “politics,” undertook a super-aggressive media strategy, and painted Komen as kowtowing to (or in cahoots with) “anti-choicers.”

In responding to a social media outcry, Brinker denied in interviews and in a You Tube video “the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.”  At the same time Komen’s other emphasis was on how the change would increase efficiency and eliminate duplication of services, a stance it has not stepped back from. Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms; they do breast screenings and referrals.

As the orchestrated attacks increased in volume and intensity, Komen issued a very carefully worded statement that PPFA and many media outlets interpreted as a “retreat.” Brinker said, “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.”

The Post story today confirms that Komen has fully caved to PPFA.

The grant money itself was small potatoes to Planned Parenthood. What was at stake was something else entirely.

In a brilliant story by Charlotte Hayes, written for the National Catholic Register, Hayes contrasted the experience of AT&T when it was the object of an all-out barrage when it stopped donating to PPFA in 1990 (it did not buckle), and what the money meant to PPFA. 

“Faye Wattleton, who was president of Planned Parenthood at the time of the AT&T controversy, summed it up in her book Life on the Line. ‘Corporate support was only about 5% of our budget,’ Wattleton wrote, ‘but it meant a great deal to us. The credibility that such endorsements bestowed was at least as valuable as the actual dollars given.’”

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