Columns

For the cure


| David Delgado/The Daily Cougar

| David Delgado/The Daily Cougar

In the course of a week, one of the most powerful and well-respected cancer foundations in the world has managed to nearly destroy their near-pristine image.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced on Tuesday that they would cease providing grants to Planned Parenthood for cancer screening services. The outrage flared almost instantly.

Many Komen donors threatened to redirect their support to Planned Parenthood, and Komen’s website was hacked the following night.

By Thursday, three high-level Komen employees had resigned, and 26 senators had asked Komen to reconsider their decision. They did by Friday, but the damage had already been done.

The once nigh-untouchable organization is now the subject of Facebook pages like “Defund the Komen Foundation” and affiliates all over the country are losing donors and sponsorships.

Komen Founder Nancy Brinker — sister of late Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980 — announced that the foundation has gone into PR red alert and will ask Ari Fleischer, former Bush administration White House press secretary and previous Komen consultant, to manage the PR crisis. Why did Komen de-funding Planned Parenthood make people so angry?

The Komen grants provided to Planned Parenthood were used to provide cancer screenings and mammogram referrals to women who otherwise would not have access to such preventative care. Komen pulled their grants due to political pressure at the expense of women’s health — the very thing they were supposed to stand for.

Brinker is Republican and donates to Republican candidates, but the Komen Foundation has remained apolitical, at least until recently. Last year, the foundation appointed far-right leaning, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel to the position of senior vice president of public policy. Handel has publicly voiced her opposition to Planned Parenthood.

Many Komen employees claim that she made the decision to cease the grants to Planned Parenthood, and that Fleischer was heavily involved as well. The Komen foundation claims that the decision to de-fund Planned Parenthood was made because of a new rule created by Handel that would prohibit them from supporting an organization under investigation.

Never mind that Komen is still funding multiple other organizations also under investigation or that the investigation into Planned Parenthood is motivated entirely by politics.

The Hyde Amendment — a rider routinely attached to annual appropriation bills since 1976 — prevents Planned Parenthood from using federal funds for abortion services. Every few years, a Senator decides to inspect Planned Parenthood’s books and make sure that the funds are being used accordingly. So far, none of these investigations have produced anything suspicious, and neither has Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns’ current investigation.

Planned Parenthood provides abortion services, which many people do not agree with, but abortions account for only three percent of the services that Planned Parenthood offers. The rest is preventative care, contraception and OB/GYN care.

The grants that they receive allow them to provide subsidized care to women who otherwise would not have access to health care. The Komen grants were used to provide breast cancer screenings and mammogram referrals.

When Komen pulled their funding from Planned Parenthood they showed the world they had become, in effect, a political organization.

Pandora’s box has been opened, and now many other instances of the foundation’s unsavory behavior are coming to light.

For example, Komen officials have been seeking legal action against other charity organizations for using the phrase “for the cure” as well as the color pink — as if cancer awareness is a profitable brand identity to be protected.

In one week, Komen has fallen in the public eye from a model charitable foundation to the evil empire of non-profits. Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, has garnered an outcry of public support and over $3 million in donations. The country stood up for women’s health, but the victory feels somewhat hollow.

We won a battle last week, but we lost the soul of a great force for women’s health to politics.

Emily Brooks is an economics senior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com.

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  • Liz

    Just to clarify your logic: Komen remained apolitical so long as they were supporting Planned Parenthood, but became political (as I understand you mean: ideologically motivated) once they pulled support from them? This argument assumes that support for PP is non-partisan, non-political, and non-ideologically motivated. And that's simply untrue. You are forgetting the 50% of Americans who do not support the mission of PP and would willingly donate money to support Komen's cancer research if they knew a portion of that money were not funding abortion.

    • Aviana

      I think the issue is less the defunding of PP but more the reasons behind it. As far as can be told, PP was defunded because the VP of Komen does not believe in abortions. I'm not sure if that is a political or ideological reason, but that's the point the article is making. I've seen a press release claiming that the defunding was because "abortions increase the risk of breast cancer", but I don't believe that to be true. Part of the reason that this is such a big deal is that – even if the funds aren't used directly for abortions – donating to PP allows them to have excess money to put towards abortions. Now I don't see this as a bad thing, but the VP of Komen does. I hope that helps you understand what's going on a bit better.

  • Spanky

    Liz, You might want to get your facts straight. NONE, that's ZERO, of the money Komen gave to PP went to "fund abortion". It went to screen poor women for cancer, which is, allegedly, the goal of Komen. Komen is the organization that decided to play politics here, and they lost. PP has many missions, not simply providing legal abortions. Komen seems to have decided one of its missions is to interfere with poor women's health to make cheap political points. Komen bought this.

    • Aviana

      As I said to Liz, while the money does not directly go to abortions, it allows PP to reallocate its own funds toward abortions. So even though legally Komen was not supporting abortions, through a technicality, they actually were.

  • Jack

    Liz, your assumptions are wrong. Komen provides zero funding for PP services that go to abortions. Neither does the Federal government (thanks to the Hayes act)….But even making that erroneus assumption your argument is ridiculous. Apparently, you're saying that because PP uses just 3% of its funding (from other sources besides Komen or the Federal government) for abortion services that 50% of America (presumably a short hand stat for anti-choice supporters) do not support PP? If that's true, it's a pretty disgusting indication of how ideologically rigid such decisions are from the so called 'Pro-Life' camp. What about the other 97% of the services PP offers to poor women? What about breast cancer screening? Pap smears? Or is 'Pro-Life' ideology so rigid that ALL poor women must suffer and die to provide a purity ratio for politically motivated Americans who blanche at just 3% of what PP actually does?

    Luckily, most Americans are smarter and more kind than that. Millions believe such arguments are without merit and will fund PP regardless of what you (or your like minded ideologues) think or say.

  • Lent

    Anyone that thinks that donated money can't be used for what ever purpose the organization wants is a fool. Money can be put in a separate account, but other accounts that were paying for "screening poor women for cancer" simply stop using that money for that and redirect it, e.g. Increase abortion funding. There is no way to keep donated money going to PP from being used for abortions.

  • Caleb

    It's funny. Abortions and contraceptives, so called 'preventative care', either terminate or alter a natural, healthy, biological act called pregnancy. You would think from how people talk that pregnancy is some sort of disease.

    Now, as for basic economics- it is absurd to believe any federal or private funding doesn't help Planned Parenthood provide abortions. Think of it this way- say you receive $100 from your parents for food and gas. Now say they started to only give you $80. Have you stopped buying one or the other, or simply cut back? You would answer cut back. That extra money simply allows you to re-allocate your resources, and that is what any sort of outside funding does; Planned Parenthood gets to re-allocate their resources.

    Now, as for mammograms. New research shows that if you have a genetic risk for breast cancer that mammograms (with their awesome radiation) actually increases a woman's risk for cancer. So that so called life saving exam is actually helping to kill women. Who wants to fund that? (http://www.preventcancer.com/patients/mammography/ijhs_mammography.htm) <—– link with medical journal article's stated

    Also, many Planned Parenthood clinics do nothing but perform abortions and simply recommend women to other non-PP clinics for mammograms, pap smears and the like. Do a little research. A big scandal last year involving PP showed how little 'women's health' they actually do. (the prostitute-pimp scandal, and scandal involving 30 PP clinics being called that offered no mammograms; shocking, I know)

    Also, as I know how this 'journalist' is unable to present both sides of the story to UH students, Komen received 100% increase in donations after announcing the split with PP (http://www.lifenews.com/2012/02/02/komen-donations-jump-100-after-cutting-planned-parenthood/), another story I'm sure none of you heard.

    Moral of the story is…. government shouldn't be funding ANYTHING that is not defense, then we wouldn't be having these discussions. Also, close your legs women, that's the #1 way to prevent pregnancy.

    I applaud Komen, and since I just so happen to do some work with them, I know plenty of people who were just thrilled by the news. Too bad they did a reversal, because we all know that the liberal way is the only way.

    • Aviana

      I agree with you about 80%, but it's difficult to close your legs when two giant hands and a gun are holding them open. You can't really plan for rape, and while I advocate conceal-and-carries, a lot of women would rather be raped than carry a gun (stupid, I know, but it's their life, not mine). I would rather "kill" a fetus than allow the genes of a rapist to be passed on to a creature of my womb. It's not fair to the fetus and it's not fair to me to be responsible for the havoc a morally corrupt man wrought on my body.
      Also, if Komen were smart, since they are "looking for the cure", they could actually use PP to conduct studies about how mammograms and abortions affect cancer in the long term.
      Otherwise, thank you for posting the links. It's good information to have on hand, and I wish the UH journalists could learn to be unbiased.
      Just my two cents.

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