There are a lot of things that piss me off about what’s going on in this country. But few have pissed me off as much as Susan G. Komen for the Cure with its de-funding of Planned Parenthood. The Komen foundation can spin this despicable action whatever way it wants, but the fact is that Komen not only caved in to the right-wing extremist element in this country but has been staffing up with anti-choice personnel. The once admired organization is no longer Susan G. Komen for the Cure, but Susan G. Komen against Women. The Komen grants to Planned Parenthood totaled $680,000 in 2011, and $580,000 in 2010. By cutting off these grants, Komen is literally putting millions of women at risk, and the backlash against Komen is, rightfully, swelling exponentially.
The story coming out of the organization is that it does not support organizations that are under investigation. Both Komen and the rest of the women in this country know that the supposed investigation of Planned Parenthood is a sham launched by Representative Cliff Stearns (R-FL). The GOP with its twisted ideology is intent on discrediting the organization and is investigating Planned Parenthood to determine if it uses federal funds for abortions. This is not true, according to Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. As anger grows against Komen, its story is changing. Now, according to Komen, Planned Parenthood is being de-funded because they are providing referrals rather than performing the breast cancer screenings. Changing stories generally means there’s a pile of bullshit somewhere, so let’s look at some troubling facts about the Komen Foundation that make its de-funding of Planned Parenthood not so surprising.
Last year, Komen hired Karen Handel as its vice president for public policy. Handel is a Republican operative, the former Georgia secretary of state, and a woman who ran for governor of Georgia in 2010 with the endorsements of Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer behind her. She is staunchly pro-life and, in fact, during her failed gubernatorial run vowed to eliminate from the Georgia state budget pass-through grants to Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screenings.
And how about the founder of the Komen Foundation? CEO Nancy Goodman Brinker, who founded the organization for her sister who died from breast cancer, served as the chief protocol officer for the United States from 2007-2009 under George W. Bush. Before that, she served as his Ambassador to Hungary. Brinker is a major Republican donor, having given more than $175,000 to the Republican party and the Republican National Committee since 1990. Her late husband, restaurant chain mogul Norman Brinker, gave more than $440,000 to the GOP between 1990 and 2009, when he passed away.
Jane Abraham, General Chairman of the anti-choice and anti-science Susan B. Anthony List (and also of its Political Action Committee), sits on Komen’s Advocacy Alliance Board. She also helps direct a network of crisis pregnancy centers (Nurturing Network) that utilize ideology, misinformation and lies to dissuade women with unintended pregnancies from having an abortion. One of the lies it spreads is that there is connection between abortion and breast cancer. Interestingly enough, Maureen Scalia — wife of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia — also serves on the board of Nurturing Network.
The GOP has spent the better part of the past two years on a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, and the Komen Foundation is aiding and abetting that travesty. For women of color, Native American women, rural women, poor women, the uninsured and the under insured, Planned Parenthood is the only way to access screenings for cervical and breast cancer. But then again, we shouldn’t be surprised. The GOP doesn’t give a damn about anyone on the above list.
Setting off a firestorm
Perhaps the Komen Foundation never expected the backlash it would see as a result of its ill begotten action. Planned Parenthood saw $400,000 in donations within the first twenty-four hours after Komen cut its funding. The family foundation of Dallas oilman and philanthropist Lee Fikes and his wife, Amy, has donated $250,000 to Planned Parenthood to offset some of the Komen grants loss. And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he will match every donation made to Planned Parenthood up to $250,000, stating that “Politics have no place in health care.”
Both Facebook and Twitter are buzzing with people vowing to cease donations to the Komen Foundation, and calling for a boycott on items carrying the Komen foundation pink ribbon logo. Credo Action set up a petition and received over 100,000 signatures in just hours. People For the American Way has sent out an email encouraging its supporters to contact Komen affiliates and ask them to publicly oppose the decision of its national organization, and to do all it can to keep funding Planned Parenthood. The American Association of University Women said it will not tie its annual conference to Komen’s Race for the Cure as a result of the Planned Parenthood Decision. And twenty-six Democratic senators have signed a letter to the Komen Foundation asking for the Planned Parenthood grants to be reinstated. Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) is spearheading the same letter campaign in the House.