Well, the Susan G. Komen (SGK) organization sure stepped in a big ol’ pile of poo this week, didn’t they? For those of you currently in outer Mongolia (the ONLY way you could have avoided the story), SGK announced that they are no longer providing any grant money to that evil Planned Parenthood.
New SGK senior VP, and fundie wingnut, Karen Handel was the apparent instigator of this foul move. She’s a proud member of the Forced Birth movement (sorry, but I refuse to call them Pro-Life until they do something…really almost ANYTHING to demonstrate that they give a shit about children after they are actually born). Despite the fact that only 3% of Planned Parenthoods funds are used for abortion, and they are the only women’s reproductive health avenue for many poor women, Handel had publicly vowed to try to destroy PP.
Komen president (and fellow arch-conservative) Nancy Brinker didn’t come off too well either, making a fool of herself by offering several contradictory, and totally implausible explanations for why this move was NOT, do you hear me NOT, political. Ha! (Side note: perhaps you saw Brinker on TV – she has had so much plastic surgery that she makes Calista Gingrich look lifelike in comparison!)
Of course, the backlash was immediate, fierce and overwhelming. Good lord, have you ever seen a valued brand destroyed more quickly? The New Coke campaign looks good by comparison! Komen finally had to apologize, but don’t be fooled into thinking that they are actually going to play nice with Planned Parenthood in the future. SGK only promised to honor the PP grant that has already been approved for this year (which they were legally obligated to do anyway), and have said that PP will be allowed to apply for future grants. Honey, Marv’s Discount Mammograms could apply for a grant, but that doesn’t mean that Komen has any intention of giving them one. My guess is that they are hoping the furor will die down and that they will be able to quietly reject future grant applications from PP. Good luck with THAT plan!
This was a public relations nightmare of epic proportions. They pissed off everyone – the left is mad that they went after Planned Parenthood, and the right is now mad that they sort of backed down. But even worse for SGK, people are now taking a serious look at how that organization is run, and it is not a pretty story. Let’s hit the low-lights:
SGK raised $400 million last year, and only spent $75 million on research.
And by the way, Komen quietly quit funding embryonic stem cell research this past year – another prong in SVP Handel’s attack on anything that doesn’t fit into her personal belief system, despite the fact that it might actually be a promising avenue to actually, you know, cure breast cancer
39% of the Komen budget is spent on “public awareness”, which is nothing more than SGK promoting itself.
Their president’s salary is $459,000 per year.
They spend over a million dollars a year to legally threaten other non-profits who use the phrase “For the Cure”.
As the blog Gin and Tacos noted, in reality Komen is simply a consulting firm that helps large corporate clients sell more of their products through pink-washing campaigns.
Regardless of whether Komen survives this fiasco, there is absolutely no reason for us to give them our time or money anymore. Quit paying a premium for crap plastered with pink ribbons – little if any of that money ever makes it to actual research. If you want to fund breast cancer research, then give your money M.D. Anderson and cut out the middle man. If you want to fund screenings, diagnosis and support for breast cancer victims, then donate to Houston’s own The Rose. And if you need to walk, then walk with the Avon event.
Or consider devoting your efforts elsewhere. After all, breast cancer groups raise over $6 BILLION a year, and yet we are no closer to a cure we were two decades ago. Meanwhile, heart disease is still the number one killer of men and women in this country.
One final thing you can do: Hop over to the Planned Parenthood site and show them some love. You can make a donation in someone’s honor, and PP will send that honoree a gift card. I suggest you make the Komen SVP your honoree:
Karen Handel Senior VP of Fail c/o Susan G. Komen Foundation
P.O. Box 650309
Dallas, TX 75265-0309