Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth
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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

The Complete Guide to the Susan G. Komen Debacle

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It's been a wild few days in the world of women's health. So what just happened? What's the lesson? Will there be a quiz? Here's an overview to help you track exactly how pink became the new blech.

  • On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood announced that Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a behemoth charity that collects donations and funnels those monies to breast cancer research, would no longer be giving support to Planned Parenthood. A Komen spokesperson told Fox that the reason behind the funding's revocation was purely regulatory; according to the spokesperson, Komen had a policy that barred them from funneling money to organizations that were under investigation at the local, state, or federal level.
  • But the move, and Komen's flimsy explanation, sent off many people's bullshit detectors, and thousands of Komen supporters expressed their confusion and anger at the decision with social media. Some promised to redirect their Komen support to Planned Parenthood. Others pledged to never again Race for the Cure. We reported that the timing of Planned Parenthood's defunding seemed oddly coincidental, seeing as less than a year ago, Komen appointed a woman named Karen Handel to serve as the charity's Senior Vice President of Public Policy. Handel had run unsuccessful for governor of Georgia in 2010 on an anti-choice platform that cited as one of its central tenets the necessity of defunding Planned Parenthood. Could the defunding of Planned Parenthood have been a political move forced by external anti-choice voices as well as Komen's own personnel?
  • By Wednesday morning, all hell had broken loose for the poor intern charged with maintaining Susan G. Komen For the Cure's social media presence had given up trying to delete all the negative Facebook posts.
  • That night, Karen Handel retweeted an anti-Planned Parenthood tweet that urged Komen detractors to "Cry (her) a freaking river." It was deleted, but not before vigilant social media users caught a screen grab. And that night, Komen's website was hacked. Dissatisfaction abounded.
  • On Thursday, Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic reported that according to sources inside Komen, Karen Handel was indeed behind the curiously recent "rule change" that led to Planned Parenthood's defunding, and that when the rule was put on the books in December, it upset one high-level Komen employee so much that she resigned in protest. Mollie Williams wasn't the only disenfranchised Komen employee to step down, though— the chair of Los Angeles Chapter of Komen for the Cure also resigned, and a New York radiologist that served as an advisor to the charity threatened to leave unless the funding was reinstated.
  • Politicians didn't appreciate Komen's blatantly political move, either. A total of 26 Senators signed a letter to Komen urging the organization to restore funding to Planned Parenthood. Several local and state politicians also let their displeasure be known.
  • Meanwhile, Komen CEO and major Republican donor Nancy Brinker embarked on a very weird damage control tour, during which she tried to re-explain the as an attempt by Komen to "streamline" and only provide grants to direct providers of mammograms, even though Planned Parenthood provided more than a hundred thousand clinical breast exams. The rule change? Psh, that's just another way to say "strategy change." Yeah. That's it.
  • The awkwardness reached a head on Thursday, when breast cancer survivor and MSBNC anchor Andrea Mitchell awkwardly interviewed Brinker on air, and Brinker sort of came across like an emotionally distant mother irritated that she was called to the boarding school to address little Blaine Junior's "behavior problem."
  • By Friday morning, news outlets were wondering why Komen hadn't applied their "no investigations" rule to more than just Planned Parenthood, and also noting that it was pretty clear that people claiming to speak for Komen were providing divergent explanations as to why Planned Parenthood funding was cut off.
  • And then, Komen folded yet again, apologizing that they made everyone so mad and announcing that they'll continue funding Planned Parenthood grants that currently exist. Put this behind us, they urged, and resume buying pink crap.
  • This whole to-do showed people that weren't aware before the extent to which Komen operates with a conservative political agenda.. Komen has shown that it's willing to lie to the public, lie repeatedly, and then try to lie to cover its tracks.
  • If anyone came out ahead from this, it was Planned Parenthood. They raised more than $3 million from individual donors after this whole Komen debacle started, including a $250,000 gift from Mayor Bloomberg and a $100,000 gift from LIVESTRONG. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has said that all of the money raised will go toward supporting Planned Parenthood's breast health programs.
  • In order for Susan G. Komen for the Cure to revamp its image as a anti-abortion social club more interested in popularity and profit than actual good works, they'll have to do some housecleaning. Either that or get better at lying.