The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation's outrageous decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screening efforts is a case study in disastrous public relations. Overnight, Komen for the Cure went from "great public-spirited organization" to "handmaiden of right-wing crazies" in the minds of countless Americans.
Until the Planned Parenthood defunding hit the Internet airwaves, I hadn't paid much attention to Komen for the Cure. A couple of times a year I'd see a positive story on the evening news about women (and some men) dressed in pink running together to raise funds and publicize the fight against breast cancer.
I'd think "What's not to like?" Now, I'm furious at Komen for the Cure. I've emailed them directly.
My wife and I will never donate to your organization again, and we will urge other families who have suffered breast cancer deaths to do the same. (My wife's sister recently died.) Your stand against Planned Parenthood is absurdly political, given how PP is dedicated to breast cancer screening. Shame on you. We'll now contribute in my wife's sister's name to Planned Parenthood. Why don't you just become an arm of the Republican Party, as one of your top executives apparently is?
I've also signed on to several organized email efforts aimed at pressuring Komen for the Cure to reverse their jihad against Planned Parenthood, including the Daily Kos campaign. Watching a self-serving, utterly unbelievable video explanation by the Komen founder and CEO didn't make me feel any better about the organization.
It just showed that in addition to Komen for the Cure being a tool of rabid Planned Parenthood haters, Nancy Brinker and other top leaders can't be trusted to tell the truth.
They're trying to claim that the decision to defund Planned Parenthood had nothing to do with pressure from right-to-life groups. That's B.S. A story in the Atlantic describes how a Komen official resigned after she learned about the planned cave-in to political pressure.
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.)
...The decision, made in December, caused an uproar inside Komen. Three sources told me that the organization's top public-health official, Mollie Williams, resigned in protest immediately following the Komen board's decision to cut off Planned Parenthood. Williams, who served as the managing director of community-health programs, was responsible for directing the distribution of $93 million in annual grants. Williams declined to comment when I reached her yesterday on whether she had resigned her position in protest, and she declined to speak about any other aspects of the controversy.
But John Hammarley, who until recently served as Komen's senior communications adviser and who was charged with managing the public-relations aspects of Komen's Planned Parenthood grant, said that Williams believed she could not honorably serve in her position once Komen had caved to pressure from the anti-abortion right. "Mollie is one of the most highly respected and ethical people inside the organization, and she felt she couldn't continue under these conditions," Hammarley said. "The Komen board of directors are very politically savvy folks, and I think over time they thought if they gave in to the very aggressive propaganda machine of the anti-abortion groups, that the issue would go away. It seemed very shortsighted to me."
Well, the Komen board should fire themselves, along with Handel, Brinker, and everyone else who knowingly wrecked the Komen for the Cure "brand" in the name of anti-abortion insanity.
Insanity, because everybody agrees breast cancer is a bad thing. Planned Parenthood, though, is popular. Only 2-3% of visits to Planned Parenthood clinics are abortion related. So Komen for the Cure has thrown away a lot of good will. Now, every time I see a pink ribbon or other Komen symbol, I'll think "American Taliban."
Abortion is legal. The Supreme Court has ruled that it is a constitutional right. Nonetheless, federal funds aren't used for abortions. And none of the Koben for the Cure funds which went to Planned Parenthood paid for abortions. They were used to prevent breast cancer.
But rabid religious right-wingers, who I like to call our American Taliban, are fanatics. They don't want anyone to give any money to Planned Parenthood, because since they mistakenly consider abortion to be an evil, everything that Planned Parenthood does is wicked according to their twisted fundamentalist minds.
Hopefully corporations which have been supporting Komen for the Cure will realize that pink is no longer a feel-good color.
Check out list after list after list of Komen’s corporate sponsors. Do you think New Balance, Ford and Georgia-Pacific signed on for a public fight over Planned Parenthood? When Yoplait put a pink lid on its yogurt, did they do it to make it easier to boycott their products? Because that’s what’s going to happen. Unlike most boycotts, it’s easy to figure out which products you shouldn’t buy: anything that displays a pink ribbon with the Komen name.
The backlash has begun.
And I think it'll keep on lashing. "A Painful Betrayal" tells it like it is. Komen for the Cure has stimulated a huge amount of utterly justified outrage. If Komen doesn't reverse itself, soon, the foundation is going to end up being a shadow of its former self.
Which would be unfortunate, because cancer is the enemy, not Planned Parenthood.