Why Komen Really Is the Bad Guy Here

It's one thing to say you're fighting breast cancer and something else entirely to actually fight breast cancer

3rd of February, 2012 ·  4 Comments

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is is the best known, largest and best-funded breast cancer organization in the United States. Komen is responsible for the pink ribbon. If you buy Yoplait yogurt with a pink lid, the pink lid is there because of Komen. The organization does a lot of races to raise money, and I once wrote an article about a woman who, after beating breast cancer, went to one of them to raise money.

Planned Parenthood is an organization that focuses primarily on women’s health. According to the Washington Post, only about 3% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions, most of the rest of it being STI testing and treatment, contraception solutions, and cancer screening. But right-wing nut-jobs don’t have a rich history of looking at the whole picture and routinely. They do have a rich history of bombing abortion clinics though.

And all is not well in paradise. Komen used to donate a ton of money to Planned Parenthood, but stopped. Why? Ostensibly because Planned Parenthood is under federal investigation. But mostly, it seems to me, because Komen hired Karen Handel to be its new vice president of policy at Komen. Handel once ran for governor of Georgia promising to defund Planned Parenthood in that state.

(Quick aside on that: it really seems like the same logic as the abortion bombers to me. Kill an abortion doctor, save hundreds or thousands of unborn babies. Defund Planned Parenthood and all its cancer screening and STI treatment and contraceptives, and more women will die of cancer and STIs, meaning less abortions. So losing contraceptives is sort of the equivalent of killing a doctor. It’s a necessary evil to do the most good. Makes sense.)

Handel also retweeted and then deleted a pretty effed tweet by Jade Morey.

In addition, despite the new policy of not funding organizations under federal investigation, Komen is still funding Penn State University. Penn State, you’ll remember, is under investigation over the sexual assault scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, rapist of children.

Further lending credence to my disbelief, three key players at Komen have resigned in protest.

Komen’s founder and CEO, Nancy Brinker, came out and said the decision was not political in nature, but between Penn State and Karen Handel’s history, I absolutely don’t believe it. Her statement sounds like a canned response put together by PR hacks. It sounds like backpedaling. It sounds like the organization gave in to right-wing pressure and is backpellaling, trying to save face.

But all isn’t lost. In direct response to Komen, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated a quarter of a million dollars to Planned Parenthood and he best summed up the entire situation:

Politics have no place in health care. Breast cancer screening saves lives, and hundreds of thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for access to care. We should be helping women access that care, not placing barriers in their way.

And he’s not the only one. Mule Design’s Mike Monteiro, simply by calling people to action on Twitter, is responsible for raising more than $6,000, $50 at a time, since yesterday.

Now, Brinker may be telling the truth and the decision truly wasn’t politically motivated. But, again, that’s not how it seems to me. Between the questionable hire, the inconsistent grants, the staffers quitting, and the hack-job PR, it’s clear to me that Komen, due to political pressure, has betrayed its core values.

I have decided to boycott anything with a pink ribbon and donate $10 per month to Planned Parenthood. I wish I could do more, but I’m poor.

Still, $10’s $10, and that’s more than Komen’s doing.

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