Susan G. Komen, putting politics before women’s health

As you may have heard, Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced a few days ago that they would no longer be funding Planned Parenthood’s efforts to screen poor women for breast cancer. (Last year, Komen had funded these activities to the tune of $600,000.) According to the breast cancer organization’s founder, Nancy Brinker, the decision was made in accordance with a newly enacted rule at Komen, stating that funds would no longer be distributed to organizations under investigation by the government. (Planned Parenthood, as you may know, is being investigated by Representative Cliff Stearns, an anti-abortion Florida Republican who is on a witch hunt, looking for evidence that the non-profit is conducting abortions with U.S. tax payer dollars.) The backlash against Komen, as you might imagine, has been swift and fierce. Not only have people been posting images of cut-up pink ribbons to Facebook at an incredible rate, signifying their anger with an organization that they feel has put politics before women’s health, but the group’s rating fell to just one-out-of-five stars in a mere 48 hours. In that same time, it should be noted, Planned Parenthood had taken in an unprecedented $400,000 in contributions from people around the United States. In spite of the incredibly negative groundswell against Komen, Nancy Brinker told the press that their decision to cut off Planned Parenthood was receiving a “very, very favorable” response… leading me to believe that either she’s on a different internet than I am, or her people are somehow hiding the truth from her… Of course, there’s also the possibility that she’s just lying. She is, after all, a big GOP supporter, and friend of George Bush’s.

The move to drop Planned Parenthood shouldn’t surprise anyone. The pinkwashing non-profit has been leading up to it for a while. Last year, they brought on a new Vice President of Public Policy by the name of Karen Handel… Handel, an anti-abortion politician, had recently run for Governor of Georgia, with the endorsement of Sarah Palin, and lost… And, in November, with Palin’s “Mama Grizzly” calling the shots, Komen quietly announced that they would no longer support embryonic stem cell research.

The folks at Komen, as I mentioned above, say that their decision to drop Planned Parenthood was precipitated by a recent internal change in policy concerning partner organizations that find themselves under investigation by governmental entities. There seems to be evidence, however, that this rule was put in place specifically so that Komen could justify turning their backs on Planned Parenthood, and the women they serve. Here, with more on that, is a clip from The Atlantic:

…Komen, the marketing juggernaut that brought the world the ubiquitous pink ribbon campaign, says it cut-off Planned Parenthood because of a newly adopted foundation rule prohibiting it from funding any group that is under formal investigation by a government body…

But three sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut-off Planned Parenthood. (Komen gives out grants to roughly 2,000 organizations, and the new “no-investigations” rule applies to only one so far.) The decision to create a rule that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, according to these sources, was driven by the organization’s new senior vice-president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is “pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.” (The Komen grants to Planned Parenthood did not pay for abortion or contraception services, only cancer detection, according to all parties involved.) I’ve tried to reach Handel for comment…

And here’s a little more about Handel, from The Nation.

…Handel is not your typical philanthropy administrator. She is a Republican pol, a former Georgia secretary of state, who ran in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, with endorsements from Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and anti-immigrant finger-pointing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. At that time she described herself as “staunchly and unequivocally pro-life,” opposed to stem cell research and a fan of crisis pregnancy centers—places that have repeatedly been shown to use scare tactics and misinformation to dissuade women from seeking abortions. She vowed to eliminate from the state budget pass-through grants to Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screenings. Interestingly, she had previously supported these grants, using the exact arguments defenders of Komen’s PP grants are making now: PP is the only organization capable of doing the work—reaching low-income women, for whom the PP clinic is often the only medical care the get—and the grant money does not fund abortions. Handel’s turnaround shows you how quickly the anti-choicers have claimed formerly neutral turf: in only a few years a relationship deemed normal and good—in Georgia!—and the only existing way of providing needed services was branded with the mark of the beast.

Planned Parenthood says Komen grants totaled around $680,000 in 2011 and $580,000 the year before, accounting for around 170,000 of the 4 million breast exams it has given in the last five years. It’s pretty shocking that Komen would deprive of services women it has itself admitted have no other way of getting them. As Jodi Jacobson reports on RH Reality Check, in 2011 Komen itself acknowledged PP’s essential role in breast care…

Obviously, being “pro life” is important to the women who run this organization, and I respect that, but I can’t quite reconcile how defunding programs that screen the poor for breast cancer really helps bolster that position.

I know that this is being covered elsewhere on the web, and that I didn’t really ad anything new to the conversation, but I wanted to make sure that it was recorded here, in the official archive, just in case my site is the only one to survive the coming apocalypse.

I’ll be curious to see how all of this plays out. I’ve heard from a few friends that they’ll no longer fundraise for Komen, but, instead, find other organizations that actually 1) believe in science, and 2) care about providing breast cancer screenings to those who couldn’t otherwise have them. I wouldn’t be surprised if this spelled the end for Komen. I don’t suspect, however, that it will hurt the momentum of the movement against breast cancer. People will just find a more credible conduit through which to apply their talents… Personally, I think this is probably a good thing. I love when conservatives overreach, and, in the process, expose themselves for what they truly are…

OK, now I’m going to go and see if I can find out how much Brinker, as the head of Komen, pays herself.

And, while I’m doing that, if you’re so inclined, you can make a contribution to Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan here.

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  1. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Half of all pregnancies are unplanned…contraception is a necessary part of a woman’s life, it is basic health care. It allows women to space their children, to prepare for parenthood and prevent an unwanted pregnancy. PP provides this service to those that cannot afford it. I keep hearing from Right to Life and other conservatives that we do not need to include contraception in affordable health care because PP already provides this service, and then out of the other side of their mouths they want to vilify and cut PP…hypocrisy rules

  2. Elvis Costello
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Komen CEO made 459,000 in 2010. There’s an interesting article on “pinkwashing” that makes for a good read…,_Inc.

  3. Lynne
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I know that I am going to be looking to donate to other charities.

    Although to be fair, I have never been a big donor to Komen just because I’ ve felt for a while that breast cancer has gotten a lot of attention and funding at the expense of other heath issues facing women today so I’ve only donated to them when someone I know has participated in one of their runs.

  4. j
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Where did the 459k number come from? The 990s on Guidstar claim $0 for Brinker. Not that I believe it.

  5. EOS
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    The decision ends a multi-million dollar partnership between two nonprofit powerhouses, stunning abortion activists and elating most everyone else. It had been an unlikely alliance from the beginning–with one group setting out to save lives, and Planned Parenthood dedicated to ending them. Since 2005, the Foundation had justified the relationship by insisting that the money only funded breast cancer screening, education, and health programs. Then the news broke. Planned Parenthood didn’t need the money for mammograms, because it never provided them! The clinics only offer manual breast exams, which the National Institutes of Health (NIH) warns is an ineffective form of cancer screening. There is not a single mammography machine in any Planned Parenthood clinic in the nation.

    Under Komen’s new policy, the Foundation will only award grants to organizations that actually do mammograms. That seems reasonable to everyone but the Left, which has spent the last 24 hours unleashing the fury on the Komen Foundation for “politicizing” the issue–when in reality, the Foundation is just trying to protect its resources. As the charity points out, Planned Parenthood is currently under investigation for misusing taxpayer funds. And unlike most in Congress, Susan G. Komen wants to be good stewards of your money. In just the last few years, Planned Parenthood has racked up a record of fraud, Medicaid overbilling, criminal cover-ups, falsifying medical information, violating safety standards, encouraging prostitution and sex trafficking, medical malpractice, accepting racially-motivated donations, and huge profits. Any legitimate organization should back away. (Even wasteful organizations like the federal government!) There are plenty of respectable health clinics out there (1,200, in fact) that would host the screenings without promoting abortion–a procedure that may have more to do with causing breast cancer than curing it.

  6. missypsi
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    EOS do you write for the “Washington Update” section of the Family Research Council’s website? I ask because your comment above has been lifted word for word from that site.
    You are a either plagiarizer or a high level right wing “journalist.” Methinks the former….

  7. EOS
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I received it as an email yesterday. No I didn’t write a word of it, but I do believe it to be 100% accurate.

  8. Edward
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    EOS also believes that rape and incest victims should be forced to carry the resulting children to term, “making the best of a bad situation.” Of course, if it were his daughter, I’m sure other options would be explored.

    People on the right don’t really want to end abortion. They want to end abortion for the irresponsible poor. There’s a huge distinction.

  9. Anonymatt
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    My understanding is that PP provided referrals with vouchers when they felt that a mammogram was necessary. So they assisted in paying for mammograms although they weren’t done on premises.

    I’m no expert on breasts, but it seems to be that breast cancer prevention has many other components than mammograms. Seems kind of arbitrary to focus on it.

    Nonetheless, if the Komen foundation wants to turn itself into a “pro-life” breast cancer charity, that is their right. I just don’t think they will be as popular. It’s every current Komen sponsor’s right to choose to become a former sponsor if they disagree. Currently we’re seeing a lot of people do so, I wonder what’s going to happen with the many corporate sponsors.

    I don’t know if what I wrote is 100% accurate, but I believe it is, so I guess that’s good enough.

  10. Meta
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Abortion services are less than 3% of what Planned Parenthood does, and none of the Komen money went toward funding that particular Planned Parenthood service.

    Here’s the breakdown of how Planned Parenthood spends their money.

  11. Lisa Spielman
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Women’s Health Care Issues O Da’ man $600,000

  12. j
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    It turns out Komen gives big money to Penn State. So that “under government investigation” justification holds even less water.

  13. kjc
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    “I don’t know if what I wrote is 100% accurate, but I believe it is, so I guess that’s good enough.”


  14. kjc
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    EOS: a conservative like you should appreciate traditions like quotation marks.

  15. Eel
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I liked this from Twitter:

    Komen thing is about more than abortion or Planned Parenthood. It’s about whether sexually active women have a right to full health care.!/AmandaMarcotte/status/165146493450326017

  16. EOS
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    54.5 million abortions in the U.S. since 1973 Roe v. Wade. I don’t care what your SES is, rich or poor, you shouldn’t kill your babies. The options to explore are whether to keep the baby or give it up for adoption.

  17. John Galt
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    The bigger question is, why do the poor need health care at all. It’s not like they have anything to live for. All the do is breed like animals, and demand our tax dollars. I say we change Planned Parenthood so that 50% of what they do is sterilization. Now, that would be something that I could gt behind.

  18. John Galt
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    EOS, I’d like to buy you a beer sometime.

  19. EOS
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink


    Don’t let them criticize you too. If you are quoting Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, then you need to use quotes as well.

  20. Eel
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Well played, EOS. I disagree with you on almost everything, but that was nicely done.

  21. K2
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    A big win for Planned Parenthood.

    BREAKING NEWS from CNN: Susan G. Komen for the Cure to restore Planned Parenthood breast cancer screening funds, Sen. Frank Lautenberg says.

  22. Brent
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    And the even bigger silver lining post Komen about-face today is that over the past three days, Planned Parenthood has raked in an additional 3 million dollars in donations. The right’s overreach has resulted in strengthening the financial stability of Planned Parenthood.

  23. anonymous
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    And this reversal of there’s, lest anyone misunderstand it, is all about the bottom line. They saw their money drying up, and they decided to compromise their principles, and take Planned Parenthood back. The whole thing is disgusting.

  24. Robert
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    When you post something here, EOS, is it too much trouble to include source information?

  25. Elvis Costello
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Facts, sources? EOS isn’t familiar with those terms. Don’t confuse EOS…

  26. Elf
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    According to their 990, which you can find on the Komen site, Brinker make $414,171 last year. You can find the form here.

    If I’m reading it correctly, they also took in about $209m that year.

  27. Tommy
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t Penn and Teller due a Bullshit show on the whole ‘Pink Ribbon / Race for the Cure – doesn’t give as much to the cause as you think it does’ a while back? People are stupid. Republicans who attack Planned Parenthood (figuratively as the literal attacks are no laughing matter) and who cannot see the benefits of providing healthcare to those in need are retarded.

    Off topic, I just heard some lefties on the radio reporting that Mitt Romney is wealthier than all the Presidents since Nixon on – combined and doubled!!!!!

    Gotta be a Morman plot to take over the world.

  28. tom mast
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Longtime lurker, first-time poster…

    The NIH does not warn against clinical breast exams.

  29. tom mast
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    And Komen didn’t really restore funding:

  30. Meta
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    From Marie Claire’s “The Big Business of Breast Cancer”.

    A popular gripe among advocates is that too much is spent on awareness campaigns — walks, races, rallies — at the expense of research. (And really, when Snuggies go pink, haven’t we hit our awareness saturation point?) There’s a case to be made for that, of course, but there’s another explanation, one that exposes an ugly, even blasphemous truth of the movement: Breast cancer has made a lot of people very wealthy. The fact is, thousands of people earn a handsome living extending their proverbial pink tin cups, baiting their benefactors with the promise of a cure, as if one were realistically in sight. They divert press, volunteers, and public interest away from other, more legitimate organizations, to say nothing of the money they raise, which, despite the best intentions of donors, doesn’t always go where it’s supposed to.

  31. Max Abuelsamid
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Attention: Please do not feed the trolls. Trolls feed on attention, however, attention contains several toxins which force the trolls to vomit the entire contents of their digestive tract back upon visitors. The troll will eventually move to another bridge if it is deprived of attention for a long enough period.


  32. Troll
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Thank you Max. That was the boost I was looking for.
    Glad to see somebody is paying attention to little old me.

  33. Thom Elliott
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Before I sit down to read interpretations of the Upanishads written by a 12th century Indian monk for the next 6ish hours, I just had to say that of all our society’s shadenfruede soaked delirium of hate, our society hates women most of all. The antihomosexual panic we live in is generated by hatred of women, the outright attacks on institutions that service low income women are based in hatred of women, and this whole Komen thing thrives off the continued existence of breast cancer. How about we eliminate abortion when we have destroyed the root cause of abortion? The horrific patriarchal views of our degenerate American men, 15% of which would miss the birth of their child for Superbowl tickets.

  34. ytownwf
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Komen can give money to whom ever they choose. Why don’t you idiots put your money up and donate. my guess is that most of you are all talk. Criticize others, while doing nothing to help. EOS, stay strong against these whiny libs!

  35. God
    Posted February 5, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    EOS, you are so busted…

  36. Posted February 5, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    It looks as though they may have cut up to $12 million in stem cell research.

  37. lorie thom
    Posted February 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    in these past days of light shining on the well heeled board of the Komen foundation and the incredibly high compensation for that family and the cuts to health care for women, and fighting healthcare reforms that would open up access to healthcare for women , and and and…I grabbed some cash and headed over to PP. DOne – my money will go directly toward care and not so much toward GOP overhead.

    Komen is a “private” foundation but they make their money through donations from the public. I am looking to the public to walk away from Komen and fund other organizations that do research and provide care directly.

  38. Meta
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Karen Handel is leaving Komen.

    Today Karen Handel, Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s controversial Senior Vice President of Public Policy, resigned in protest of the organization’s decision to consider reinstating funding for cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood health centers.

    Handel has been at the center of the firestorm surrounding the organization’s unpopular decision to sever ties with Planned Parenthood — a decision that was reversed just a few days later following a massive backlash from supporters and its own employees.

    In her resignation letter, Handel openly acknowledges her integral role in formulating the policy designed to cut off Planned Parenthood funding. Just a few days ago, Komen founder and president Nancy Brinker claimed, “Let me just tell you for the record that Karen did not have anything to do with this decision.”

  39. Meta
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    A Wisconsin Planned Parenthhood office was firebombed yesterday.

  40. Eel
    Posted October 9, 2014 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Fracking company teams up with Susan G. Komen, introduces pink drill bits “for the cure”

2 Trackbacks

  1. By The War on Women makes its way to Michigan on June 8, 2012 at 7:21 am

    […] a few months ago, announced that they would be putting politics before women’s health, and cutting financial support. The response, as she said, was immediate and overwhelming. Some 1.3 million tweets were sent by […]

  2. […] than encountering the wrath of Planned Parenthood supporters. (You remember what happened to the former head of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, right?) So please make the call right now.Lastly, if you’re up for it, you can give money to […]

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