The Komen Kerfuffle is Far from Over

Despite all the headlines declaring Komen to have "backed down," "reversed its decision," etc., you can bet your bippies the recent impasse is but a prelude of what's to come. I, for one, am more than happy to let the media leave the impression that Komen has re-embraced Planned Parenthood, though. It's making wingnut heads explode across the land; the commentary from some of the conservative websites is just the most delicious schadenfreude. Especially comments like this:
This is an incredible mistake. The fact that a wide majority of people had no idea they were funneling cash to Planned Parenthood actually provided a backstop to the fallout from cutting it off. How many of those will cut off donations to SGK, now that they caved to the fascists?
That's right; until Komen cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, a huge swath of their support base had no idea they even gave them one penny. Now that people do know, they want nothing to do with Komen anymore. No matter what Komen does from here on out, they have lost faith with too many people to survive this. Planned Parenthood is almost an after-thought at this point; the ensuing scrutiny into Komen's doings has dampened enthusiasm on both sides of the support base.

The really bad news for Komen is that both sides even agree on some of the issues that have come to light. For instance, I don't think anybody is happy that the former CEO (Brinker does not take a salary) was paid over $400,000 a year. Komen spends more on overhead than they do donating to research. Nobody on either side of the political divide trusts them anymore and with good reason: all indications seem to be that what goes on at Komen is not exactly above the board and really has very little to do with breast cancer research.

Apparently, when it isn't busy suing other charities over the use of "For the cure" and the like, The Komen Foundation's favorite hobby is lobbying. Lobbying against what, you might ask? Breast cancer screening and prevention in government health programs. Yes; you read that right. To all appearances, Komen's focus is very much skewed towards a cure and not prevention.
Did Komen step up to fund that work? Not to our awareness. Did Komen ask its donors to give to Silent Spring Institute and the coalition? Again, no. Now Komen enters the Cape without even talking to the supporters and researchers who have struggled for years to study the breast cancer excess. What will Komen do with the large amount of money their well-oiled campaigns can generate? Will they support the scientists who have spent their careers seeking ways to prevent breast cancer? Will Komen support community organizers who educated people about these high rates long before Komen ever thought about it? Actually, we worry that Komen's fundraising will strip our community-based organizations of the meager funds they raise, as in 14 years of the wonderful Against the Tide events.
It is starting to come out in ever-more lurid detail just how right-wing an outfit the Susan G. Komen Foundation really is. Sure, they apologized to Planned Parenthood and assured everyone they had revamped their guidelines so as to not unfairly exclude PP from future donation grants. But if you read the weasel words apology closely, all Komen promises Planned Parenthood is that they will be eligible to apply for future grants. It expressed zero commitment to actually funding Planned Parenthood in future grant cycles.

So do not let the headlines fool you and don't for one second think that Komen has come to its senses and everything is back to normal. Or at least make sure to acquaint yourself with what "normal" really is for Komen. This is where Eve Sanchez Silver, a woman you've likely never heard of, comes in. Long before Komen had Karen Handel making policy decisions for them, Silver was there, pushing for an anti-choice agenda.
But in 2004, she learned that some of the group's local chapters gave money to Planned Parenthood affiliates to pay for breast exams for low-income women. Silver couldn't help feeling that the more money Planned Parenthood had, the more abortions its clinics could perform.

By the end of the year, she had resigned from Komen's Hispanic-Latino Advisory Committee and found a new mission: pressure Komen to cut all financial ties to Planned Parenthood.
So you see, this hostile stance regarding Planned Parenthood was a) a long time coming; b) largely from within Komen; and c) is not going away anytime soon. They knew this move could cause backlash and they did it anyway, because the right has been targeting them for years; Stearns' investigation just gave them an excuse to move.
In fact, though, abortion opponents had been putting the squeeze on Komen for years. Silver's work at an antiabortion group called the International Coalition of Color for Life in Red Bank, N.J., and with like-minded activists was paying off.

Each year, the foundation's local affiliates sponsor more than 100 fundraising runs and walks around the country. In the weeks leading up to those events, some affiliates receive calls from antiabortion groups threatening to boycott the events and to stop frequenting the businesses that sponsor them.
They caved to it once, and if we've learned anything about Komen this past week, it is that the organization is somewhat hapless and clearly sympathetic/susceptible to such pressure. As long as Handel, an avowed opponent of Planned Parenthood, remains in the VP position, Komen is not to be trusted to be apolitical. And Silver has sworn to keep up her efforts and not rest until she (likely with Handel's help) has succeeded in disentangling Komen from Planned Parenthood.

In the meantime we can keep supporting Planned Parenthood and celebrate what Komen's misstep has done for them. Not only have they raised $1 million since this all began, but they are enjoying all manner of favorable press coverage for once. Let's hope enough truth about what they do gets out to inoculate them against these kinds of witch hunts for at least a few decades. And let's hope the donations keep rolling in to Planned Parenthood to get those matching funds. Whatever you do, please do not return to the pink fold and don't let your friends forgive them, either. This was just round one.

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