When Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced that they'd no longer be providing support to Planned Parenthood, many of its supporters smelled a right wing political agenda at work and took to the group's Facebook page to express their disappointment. After working tirelessly to delete negative comments from the page for several hours yesterday, the foundation has released a statement insisting that their decision to defund Planned Parenthood wasn't political, because they're not a political organization. Bullshit.
Komen's absolutely a political organization, and one of their most recent political moves was to hire as it's Vice President of Communications one Karen Handel, a Sarah Palin-endorsed, rabidly anti-choice failed gubernatorial candidate from Georgia. Even though the services that Komen grants support at Planned Parenthood are breast exams for poor women, Handel was vocally in favor of defunding the organization as a candidate. In addition, Komen's founder Nancy Brinker was a major donor to George W. Bush.
In spite of the fact that it's clear Komen for the Cure has prioritized fetuses over women, they're in damage control mode now, insisting in the face of evidence to the contrary that their actions are the result of high-minded concern for women and not mythology-based concern for ideology. An update from their Facebook page reads,
At Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the women we serve are our highest priority in everything we do. Last year, we invested $93 million in community health programs, which included 700,000 mammograms. Additionally, we began an initiative to further strengthen our grants program to be even more outcomes-driven and to allow for even greater investments in programs that directly serve women. We also implemented more stringent eligibility and performance criteria to support these strategies. While it is regrettable when changes in priorities and policies affect any of our grantees, such as a longstanding partner like Planned Parenthood, we must continue to evolve to best meet the needs of the women we serve and most fully advance our mission.
It is critical to underscore that the women we serve in communities remain our priority. We are working directly with Komen Affiliates to ensure there is no interruption or gaps in services for women who need breast health screening and services.
Grant making decisions are not about politics—our priority is and always will be the women we serve. Making this issue political or leveraging it for fundraising purposes would be a disservice to women.
Facebook users aren't buying it. In response to Komen's weak defense, one detractor wrote,
I will never donate another dime to nor participate in any SGK-related event after this cowardly decision to cave to right wing extremists. Shame on you for saying you support women's health when you pull a stunt like this.
Nothing you say will change your decision, and now nothing I buy will support it either.
If your priority was really the women you serve and not to promote the anti-abortion agenda of those on your board, you wouldn't have stopped funding Planned Parenthood. PP saves women's lives on a regular basis and consistently promotes women's health, including catching breast cancer as early as possible. If this weren't about politics, these grants would never have come into question.
As of this post's writing, there have been over 1,000 comments on that Komen post alone, most of them negative, many of them promising to withdraw financial support, which, according to whoever wrote Komen's defense, is "hurting women."
With this maneuver, though, Komen for the Cure's anti-choice political agenda appears to have backfired. Planned Parenthood's been flooded with support and promises for contributions from supporters. The organization doesn't yet have figures on how much money flowed in from donors over the last 24 hours, but we'll keep you up to speed.
In the meantime, the family planning organization has launched a Breast Health Emergency Fund to assure that services for low income women aren't interrupted, because unlike Susan G Komen For the Cure, cancer doesn't care if you're poor or pro-choice.