Susan G. Komen — Blinking?

As I noted over on Twitter, this just-released press release from the Susan G. Komen foundation looks like a blink. Feel free to comment on what you believe are the motivations and consequences in the comments. Be polite to each other or I’ll whack you with the Mallet of Loving Correction.

Also, I’m continuing my fundraiser in any event. Just to be sure.

Edit: A take on the apology from the women at Jezebel.

165 thoughts on “Susan G. Komen — Blinking?

  1. My own take: The defunding was political on the part of the board, they thought they could get away with it, and were somewhat gobsmacked that they could not. This is blinking while backpedaling while disavowing while whining that everyone is being mean. They are sorry they got caught.

    The Susan G. Komen brand is still mightily compromised by the act, and probably even more so now, since they’ve now just pissed off the anti-abortion folks they were making happy with the Planned Parenthood delisting, on top of all the women (and others) who they pissed off by delisting Planned Parenthood in the first place.

    And at the end of it, I don’t think anyone believes that the Komen folks won’t find a way to delist PP again the first chance they get.

    In all, a truly world-class public relations debacle, which I have no doubt will be taught in business schools for years to come.

  2. Seems positive and yet at the same time it would probably be wise to keep an eye on them, so that they don’t try to sneak something in when we all aren’t paying attention.

  3. One more example of the power of the internet to stop high profile people from doing monsterously stupid and shitty things, among other factors that has these folks backpeddling like crazy. Well done John, and everyone else who has supported this cause this week.

  4. I think they made a bad decision based on their criteria of what “being under investigation” means, or maybe they should consider WHY a certain entity is “under investigation”. That terminology “under investigation” doesn’t really apply to PP in the first place, as far as I am concerned. They’re pretty forthright with how their money is spent when it comes from different sources.

    Actually, it doesn’t seem so long ago, that there were questions about the SGK foundation and how wisely they spend their money.

  5. So in the end, Komen managed to irritate people on both sides of a controversial issue. Nice PR trick, that.

  6. I agree. They thought they could get away with it, and they were wrong. I hope the person or people who made this decision appreciate the irony of their actions: this is probably the best thing to happen to Planned Parenthood in years. Not only are donations pouring into PP, but they’re also getting their Komen money reinstated; to be honest, I doubt they could have planned a more productive fundraiser for PP if they’d tried.

  7. Well, it is only continued funding through this funding period, isn’t it? It gives them a cushion while they can try to find a lower-profile way to strip funding for PP once the current furor has died down. I don’t trust them a bit, based on their history. For all we know, the decision was “let’s not give the liberals a rallying cause during an election year, let’s wait until next year.”

  8. Interesting. This is now the third take on this, I believe, since after they trotted out the “under investigation” card, I heard this morning on NPR that the rationale had to do with “funding things closer to their core mission” or something.

    Yup. No politics here.

    Sadly, February is a very pink month and a lot of SGK pink functions and fundraisers are trying to launch right now at the local levels — I’m sure the local groups are sick over all this.

    Dr. Phil

  9. They lied about why they were ending the contributions to Planned Parenthood in the first place, so they lost my trust well before this. (And lied about it in this press release to boot.)
    This is damage control, trying to stem the damage to their reputation. Nothing more.

  10. Not sure I see it as a blink. More like turning your head to the side and up, and looking at the sky without really addressing the question.

    The statement is too vague to have any real meaning. And it looks more like a plea to just leave them alone while they come up with an adequate excuse for what they have done than anything else.

  11. Thanks for continuing the fundraiser. All of this has made me more informed about the Komen foundation and considering everything, I will no longer be giving to them. I feel this was a political move that backfired and if they can figure out another way of doing it, they will.

    So Planned Parenthood it is for me. With a card going to Komen so they know where what would have been their money is going.

  12. What I wish more people would take away from this is that Planned Parenthood really does have a pretty broad support base. Elected officials who prioritize defunding Planned Parenthood may not really be acting in accordance with the will of their constituents.

  13. It sounds totally bogus to me. I’ve heard so many different rationalizations — it was about the “under investigation” thing, but then the head of the foundation said something totally different in the video at http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2012/02/komen-founder-defunding-controversy-a-mischactrerization-/1 , so if I’d had any doubt that the “under investigation” rationale was bogus, it evaporated at that point.

    Oh well — one more reason to make sure I give to Planned Parenthood. I’ve been working toward making a smaller number of large donations, rather than giving a little to a whole bunch of different organizations, and now I’ll make sure PP stays on that list.

  14. It’s hard to tell if they blinked or not, given the pervasive weaselling in the statement. It sounds like they want people who wanted them to blink to think they did, and people who didn’t want them to blink to think they didn’t.

    PR-speak almost always makes me feel slightly nauseated and unclean. It’s a perversion of language, even more-so than simple dishonesty.

  15. This is the reaction to HOLY CRAP WE JUST LOST US SOME SERIOUS CASHFLOW!
    It’s never a good day when you make a decision based on religiously convicted politics and the entire internet craps on your head. No one, and I mean NO ONE, bought the it’s not a political decision stance. People don’t like to be lied to so baldfaced, especially since that lie stank to high hell.
    Komen Foundation you have been tarred by the actions of your poor leadership choices. You should think about begging the sane people that quit your organiztion in protest to come back and ditch the morons that backed this stupid decision.

  16. Next step in damage control: Karen Handel resigns. Not that I’m expecting it, unless the strong pressure on SGK is maintained.

  17. I guess what I don’t understand is why they decided to defund Planned Parenthood now. They’ve been getting flack about the grants since at least 2004 when Curves pulled their corporate donations because of the Planned Parenthood connection.

    Were they really looking for an out this entire time? Can we really put this all on Karen Handel?

  18. John is absolutely right, they’ll figure out how to keep on dissing Planned Parenthood – except this time it will be behind closed doors. The PR released today is full of weasel words. Don’t trust ‘em, don’t fund ‘em.

  19. Sure, John, but for effective damage control it should be sooner. I don’t think she is THE reason for the defunding, but she is its public face now.

  20. Wow. I’ve seen some hurried backpedalling but this borders on epic. Part of me is amused, part of me is disgusted. Of course this is the same organization which endorses a gun in order to raise funds to fight breast cancer, so I’m really not surprised by what comes out of their brains anymore.

  21. @ Tracy: Some people actually did buy that stance. Or at least some people said they did, and probably some of them honestly meant it.

  22. I’ve been losing my respect for SGK for a long time now. This politically motivated defunding of PP is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. The cherry on top of that straw is this article about the licensing of “pink” hand guns was the straw that broke the camel’s back. How an organization dedicated to saving women’s lives can brand an instrument of death is beyond me. http://tinyurl.com/84zylj5

  23. I’m guessing that the “Pink Ribbons Inc” documentary will be getting more viewers than it might have otherwise.

  24. In an odd way I would have had a bit of grudging respect for them if they’d just been honest about what they were doing.

    As soon as I heard about this I went over to PP and donated $100. To be candid, I don’t want them to give money to PP. They’ve shown their real face. Those of us who believe in supporting women’s health – all aspects of it – can give directly to PP. The anti-choice folks can stay behind with Komen.

    I’m heartened to see from your take – and the comments here – that everyone sees through their CYA moves.

  25. Maybe I fail at reading comprehension, but what is a “blink” in this context?
    Seems to me they were catching a lot more flak from the general population than they were from the anti-abortion groups who pressured them into dropping Planned Parenthood, so they reversed their decision to drop them.

  26. And on top of all that, they’ve now garnered enough media interest that there is renewed publicity about SGK’s activities (and lawsuits, and use of funding and….), not just its defunding of PP.

  27. John, you’re right on the money. Last night on the Ed Show and Rachel Maddow (I forget which one as my memory is shot) I heard Nancy Brinker make the most smarmy, self-serving, lying statement I’ve heard since Gingrich, Romney, et al debated. I will never again trust her or her organization. I heard the head of NOW say she thinks that SGK foundation will likely cease to exist inside of around five years and I think that’s an honest prediction. I think they’ve lost a lot of peoples’ trust and I will do any of my giving directly to PP which did my health screenings and reproductive care in my early adulthood.

    The SGK foundation no longer is about women’s health. It’s about pandering to the anti reproductive rights crowd. I, for one, am outraged.

  28. They didn’t blink at all. It’s a non-apology apology that doesn’t promise anything new at all above allowing PP to apply for grants. They said all along that they intended to honor the current grants that run through 2013. And they make no guarantees at all as to how future grants will be treated.

    And I’m not anti-gun but pink guns for breast cancer is extremely distasteful.

  29. I love this bit of weasel-wordery:
    It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics — anyone’s politics.

    My own translation:
    Will you PLEASE stop beating us over the head about this?

    But the sentence I love out of the original translation is “We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics — anyone’s politics.“. Maybe they shoulda thunk of that before pulling that boneheaded move? I mean seriously, if you are going to make a decision based on politics, you really, really shouldn’t be surprised when you tick people off and they call you out on it. It is too late to unmar the mission as it were. As I posted on the ebook thread (and will now be adding a few words to to complete the image): If SKG were a man, it managed to acheive the unenviable status of stepping on its own penis out of spite, in full view of the public at that!

  30. gah… damn closing tag forgetting atheist.
    () there, just ’cause I don’t wanna leave the jub undone. Take that ya Scott-damned idjit, being me that is.

  31. @rich ward
    Yup
    SGK has shown that they really cant be trusted with our charity dollars. They have shown that currently they are beholden to the right. There is NOTHING to stop them from doing that and even more in the future. There is nothing to stop them from using their donations to fund anti-choice rallies, lawsuits and movements. So much easier to give directly to PP.
    Hmmmmmmmm

    I just realized that I gave yesterday to PP and not to PP Illinois. Time to make a second donation.
    And the best part, I FEEL great giving to them!!

    PP helps poor women get basic healthcare and screening. PP helps poor women get access to birth control, pre-natal care and, if needed, legal abortions.

    What is there not to like?

  32. I am most impressed by the MAJOR $$$s PP have raised in the past few days. I hope people remember, in November, that their political choices will determine how our government spends healthcare dollars, here and abroad. If people are concerned about providing comprehensive healthcare to women (and men and children) who are poor, they will take their responsibility as voters very seriously.

  33. Interesting to me as an example of a (perceived) victory of the internet over special interests. Will something come of Komen + SOPA/PIPA in terms of realization of the power that the internet can whip up on very short notice?

    I don’t think we’re seeing an Internet Spring, but it does seem that this is a factor in political calculations that is no longer the theoretical bogeyman it used to be.

  34. The whole pink merchandise phenomenon strikes me as fairly nutty and breast cancer has been singled out for charitable donations out of proportion with the impact to women’s health, and for all of the ‘awareness’ that this campaign is supposed to generate, I suspect that most people still think of breast cancer as a disease that primarily strikes younger women. Women would probably be better served by donations for heart disease, and since symptoms for women can be different and are frequently not recognized, there would actually be benefit from a surge in awareness.

    That said, I see no reason to get more worked up about pink guns than pink Sharpie pens or whatever other pink object that someone wants me to buy.

  35. I love it when nice things happen because of the Internet.

    Also, I think major PR gaffes and back-pedaling are well covered in business schools. We already call this “Pulling a Netflix.”

  36. so, instead of caving to right wing conservative agenda they have now caved to the left wing liberal agenda. Makes it simple enough for me, no support for Komen will continue.

  37. Shorter Komen: disregard everything we lied about yesterday – we’ve got a lie you’ll like better today so you’ll keep giving us money.

    Weasels, weasels, weasels. It does not say that they will fund new grants to Planned Parenthood, not will reinstitute the grants pulled from stem cell research at Johns Hopkins. It does not say ANYTHING about their craven opposition to funding cancer treatment for poor women. It does not say anything about the..ahem…CRIMINAL investigations at Penn State.

  38. I guess watching $0.5 million in donations walk to PP in just 3 days was an eye opener. Strange how quickly you can respond when you see “your” money leaving out the front door.

  39. @Mike 12:50pm

    “That said, I see no reason to get more worked up about pink guns than pink Sharpie pens or whatever other pink object that someone wants me to buy.”

    I believe the idea is to point out the irony of an ostensibly “pro-life”* organization putting their branding on an instrument designed to kill things.

    *(For whatever meaning you wish to apply to that term–perhaps “pro-health” might be a less-charged wording.)

  40. I also learned a lot about SGK that I hadn’t known prior to this week.

    I’m beginning to think that many (I won’t say most) charities of this nature are just not efficient enough, and it’s just simpler to give money directly to the places it needs to get to (i.e. PP or other local women’s health service groups). You get more “bang for your buck” that way.
    I don’t mind the salaries some of these groups need to pay their top personnel, but the sheer number of “buy this pink item and we’ll donate a SMALL fraction of the proceeds to fight breast cancer” does leave me speechless. Especially when a gun is one of the items….and I’m not against guns, either. It’s just tacky, in my opinion.

  41. well done JS and everyone else who helped bring this issue to light and make sure that this sort of poiltically motivated bull$%^# would not be tolerated.

  42. As an experienced translator of corporate and government double-talk, yep, they blinked. The statement is damage control that really doesn’t say much. The factual content is that maybe they’ll tweak their policy to make the shaft less obvious, and hide behind that.

  43. @Jason

    Actually there is no irony at all when it comes to the faction of anti-choice/”pro-life” that for all intents and purposes should be labeled “pro-life until you’re born and then you’re on your own”.

    My labeling is in no way meant to label the whole movement as such. I just mean to point out that there is a very vocal (and I hope very tiny) portion who are all up in saving a life when it comes to abortion, but who afterwards don’t want anything more to do with it. Access to health care? “Not our problem”. Access to better education to help climb out of the muck and mire? “Get to the back of the bus, more important people up here.” And the death penalty? “Use it early, use it often!”.

    Mind you, as I said, I hope that is a small subset. But yeah, for them, Anti-abortion and guns go hand in hand.

  44. Yes Jason, I assumed that this was the sentiment that was intended, but I don’t accept the notion or the offhanded way it which it is assumed that it is intuitively obvious to the causal observer that firearms are shameful objects. Sometimes it is just such an instrument that is necessary to save lives and women in particular are more likely to find a firearm more useful for the purpose than a broadsword.

    I have also seen an article or two complaining that women who purchase firearms are actually more interested in designs that fit their hands than in non-traditional colors, but the Discover show, American Gun, does seem to depict at least a few women who want to buy guns in fashionable colors.

    Since we seem to be wandering afield of SGK, It does seem enormously bogus to contrive a reason why they should stop funding a particular grantee. If SGK doesn’t want to support PP, or stem cells or whatever, they should say so and then there is the sticky problem of allocating the funds already donated to them with an expectation for what they would be used for. Existing SGK donors are right be furious.

    PP strikes me as a peculiar organization. How do they find themselves with the simultaneous missions of reproductive services and breast cancer screenings? Shouldn’t I be a least a little suspicious that part of the objective is make it possible for people to point out that only X% of what they do is something to which people might object? If the object is to provide a broad spectrum of charitable medical services to low income women, and indeed men as well, then it would probably be an easier sell if it were an organization separate from PP so that it could solicit donations from people who don’t want to support PP without creating suspicion that earmarks aren’t being respected.

  45. Digital Atheist -
    Let’s also not forget that the pro-life groups tend to be curiously silent about ending wars the US gets involved in (much less trying to avoid future ones). Surely our soldiers (to say nothing of the civilian casualties) are just as worthy of living as 5 month old fetuses?

  46. The “blink” also makes me wonder about the claims that were made earlier this week that the Komen Foundation had seen a “100%” increase in contributions. (e.g. http://dailycaller.com/2012/02/02/after-cutting-ties-with-planned-parenthood-komen-donations-up-100-percent/)

    When I first saw that nmber, I wondered, “100% by what metric?” For the day? The week? The month? I assume they were talking about direct donations to the organization, as opposed to “pink” purchases, cause otherwise I’d think we’d have retailers talking about it.

    I’m guessing that those claims will turn out to be either exaggerated or completely fabricated, or at the very least paint an inaccurate picture of the full fundraising portfolio.

  47. @duskfire

    I’m not gonna touch that one with a ten-foot pole. If John or someone else cares to tackle it pro or con more power to ‘em. I’ll just say that when I was in the Army I knew who had my interests at heart.

    Now to wrench this back to the topic at hand. I think this (non)apology was admirably weasel-worded. The semantic content can be boiled down to: “We thought we could pull this off and got snakebit instead. Please stop chunking stones. We did no wrong and would do it again, as long as we can control the PR spin next time.”

  48. Mike says: “PP strikes me as a peculiar organization. How do they find themselves with the simultaneous missions of reproductive services and breast cancer screenings?”

    This tells me that either (a) Mike is unaware of the role played by OB/GYNs in breast cancer screening or that (b) Mike is being disingenuous at best and trolling at worst.

    Seeing as how I try to give people the benefit of the doubt: “Reproductive services” includes all the services performed by an OB/GYN. These services include breast cancer education and screening (including education about self-examination, physical examinations, and prescriptions for mammography, among others). “Reproductive services” and “breast cancer screenings” aren’t “simultaneous missions”, they’re the same mission.

  49. Going forward, all of my charity will be directed to organizations which actually provide direct help. I will no longer donate to any charity “middle-man” groups like Komen and United Way who merely collect money and then choose where to redirect it after paying their considerable expenses. Your money can help more people if you donate directly to service providing organizations like Gods Pantry, Planned Parenthood, St. Jude, your local church and library, etc. Helping those in need is much more productive than fighting with those whose beliefs differ from your own.

  50. @ TLWiz, great plan. These huge organizations have admin. costs, then they direct money to other organizations with admin. costs. Less gets to the people in need. It’s good to know EXACTLY where your money is going and how it is being spent.

  51. Yes to TLWiz and Kay,
    90% of our charitable donations go to the local shelters here in town, the rest goes to the MS research group. (my sister died in “07 from MS)
    Shop local and give local. That’s the ticket.

  52. Speaking as someone who was cautiously supportive of them breaking ties with Planned Parenthood — I agree, from beginning to end the PR was handled in a spectacularly boneheaded way. Like I wrote here the other day, honesty would have been the best policy — I don’t know anyone, even those who were pleased by the decision to end PP funding, who believed the SGK foundation when they said it wasn’t a political decision.

    There’s nothing wrong with a foundation whose job is to raise money, to make political decisions if they think it will help the bottom line. I don’t know why they had to hide behind the investigations thing.

    A couple of pro-life organizations (lifesitenews.com is the source of most of the links I have seen people passing around today) are suggesting that the reversal isn’t much of a reversal, that it’s just an attempt “to get some breathing room.” Which makes me think that Komen’s PR department is *still* royally screwing up, because by now they should be making it obvious whether they are, or are not, going to award future grants to PP or not. The message is completely jumbled — the least charitable view is that Komen is trying to have it both ways — that they want to get support back from their furious pro-Planned Parenthood former supporters while at the same time leaving a message that’s ambiguous enough to keep pro-lifers in “wait and see” mode until Komen has time to cash all the checks they wrote in the last 2 days.

  53. It all comes down to trust. Komen has shown that they lack the integrity to be trusted. The problem with lying, story changes, and weasel words is that no one trusts you, and a lack of trust with a non-profit is very hard to come back from. Since Komen can’t be trusted in what they say, it is very hard to trust them with one’s money. The lies infect everything they do, like a cancer.

    Komen has always been very slick in their presentation and great marketers. This worked well when they were trusted but now I think that actually works against them now as inauthentic advertising. Whether it has been this way for Komen for many years is easily open for debate, and I personally think their policies before this have been pretty bad. But the point is most people saw them as a safe go-to charity, now that is not the case.

    It is impossible to see Nancy Brinker leaving that organization, Susan Komen was her sister, and the entire organization is rooted in her personal narrative. This worked well when their was trust, now I think that is actually a liability, it has founder’s syndrome where the founder can’t let go.

    Karen Handel either will be the one to get the boot, or no one will. She will not be put out to pasture at some point in the future when it has all settled down because the Board and Nancy Brinker agreed whole heartedly with this policy. No one at Komen thinks anyone has done anything wrong. If Karen Handel is dumped it will be because of PR nothing else.

    I personally think they could give more power to local branches, put Nancy Brinker in more of a ceremonial position, fire Karen Handel- the PR is important, and get some of their vocal critics onto the Board. Where they would then have to put into their policies that this sort of reasoning was not going to be acceptable in the future. This would show large changes that people could believe in.

    Frankly however, this organization has always been Nancy Brinker and her cohort’s baby. They will not let that go regardless of the good of the organization. There will be a Cure before Komen gets it’s house in order.

  54. Komen says it will not fund organizations that are ‘under investigation’, whatever that means. What happens if the organization gets cleared of whatever wrongdoing it was accused of? Or, like the Hershey Medical Center, they are playing ‘Six degrees of Kevin Bacon’ so they can justify removing support? I suppose it’s part of the weaselry to simply not state ‘We won’t fund that because it’s against our president’s beliefs’.

  55. My take:

    I don’t care if outfits like the Komen Foundation have a ‘political agenda’. I have one or two myself, when it comes to charitable giving. Down here in Middle Earth, the Salvation Army does excellent social service work but as a gay man I can’t bring myself to support an organization that was so prominent in the campaigns against homosexual law reform, civil union legislation and believes otherwise qualified same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt children.

    Just be fraking HONEST AND ACCOUNTABLE about it! #notrocketscience.

  56. Rachel Maddow pointed out the fact last night that PP has been under constant attach both federally and by individual states for years now and ramping up all the time. No one seemed to care much until the SGK debacle which is kind of sad. Maybe this is the straw that brakes the camels back and I hope that it wakes more people up to what is going on around the country. Folks don’t realize what they had until it’s gone and by then, most times, it’s too late.

  57. “I don’t care if outfits like the Komen Foundation have a ‘political agenda’. I have one or two myself, when it comes to charitable giving. Down here in Middle Earth, the Salvation Army does excellent social service work but as a gay man I can’t bring myself to support an organization that was so prominent in the campaigns against homosexual law reform, civil union legislation and believes otherwise qualified same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt children.”

    I think the Salvation Army is an excellent counterexample for you to have chosen, Craig. I didn’t want to support SGK if they fund PP; but it’s not because I’m anti-cancer-screening. You don’t want to support Salvation Army; that’s not because you’re anti-poor-people. Both of us can choose other ways to use our charitable dollars that do good, but aren’t associated with other causes we reject.

    I really don’t understand why it is so difficult for the left and the right to understand each other on this one. We all want to do good things with our charitable dollars, but we all try to spend it prudently — and that always means saying “no” to one org so we can say “yes to another.

  58. OK fair enough, DGL, if an OB/GYN examines someone at PP, then surely he or she will consider the breast exam to be part of a proper exam. I don’t actually know whether most such exams are done by OB/GYNs, or GPs, surely some of both. Both GPs and urologists give men digital exams. PP they also provides prenatal care and did birth control method show and tell for my high school health class. I apologize for my previous statement suggesting that PP’s mission is strictly bimodal, but PP is still a fairly odd duck.

    While PP may provide all of the usual office services provided by an OB/GYN that isn’t quite the whole of the situation. It isn’t as if all of the medical specialties have free clinics dedicated to just the one specialty. Most free medical clinics are more general in scope. PP is somewhat unusual in that regard (I’m guessing drug treatment is also like that), and I would suggest that the reason why is essentially political; birth control, STDs, and abortion push people’s buttons in a way that most other medical subjects do not. Margaret Sanger started out with birth control as her mission and PP is political to a considerable degree. There have been a number of criticisms of how PP counts office visits for various services and whether such accounting policies are designed to reduce the perceived relative fraction of abortions, and indeed one often sees statements that it’s wrong to criticize PP because only X% of their services are abortions.

    So if all of these services are “the same mission” then how does one account for how donations made to the organization are allocated, and how practical is it really to “earmark” one’s donation, and if PP does claim to be able to earmark such donations, the nitty gritty of their services accounting starts to matter. So if you want to donate to the war on breast cancer, and it turns out that the most effective way of reaching many poor women is to donate to PP, and you don’t happen to want to donate certain other of PP services you are a bit stuck.

  59. @Edward Brennan
    No one at Komen thinks anyone has done anything wrong. If Karen Handel is dumped it will be because of PR nothing else.

    As for Karen Handel being dumped, that is up to the future to reveal. You do stand a good chance of being correct though.

    regarding the other part of your statement, however, not so much.

    Full story here. (Courtesy CBS News)

    “The source also said that Mollie Williams, who had been Komen’s director of community health programs, had resigned in protest over the grant cutoff.
    Williams, in an email, said she could not comment on her departure for reasons of professional confidentiality, but she was clear about her views.
    ‘I have dedicated my career to fighting for the rights of the marginalized and underserved,’ she wrote. ‘And I believe it would be a mistake for any organization to bow to political pressure and compromise its mission.’ “.

    Also noted in the story, affiliates of SKG in California, Connecticut, and Arkansas have expressed displeasure with the the move to stop donations.

    Mind you, unless the public outcry switches to one of “Lynch Karen Handel (metephorically)”, I don’t see her stepping down anytime soon.

  60. Mike wrote:

    So if all of these services are “the same mission” then how does one account for how donations made to the organization are allocated, and how practical is it really to “earmark” one’s donation, and if PP does claim to be able to earmark such donations, the nitty gritty of their services accounting starts to matter.

    Not really seeing your point there, Mike. I’m obviously not privy to the workings of the Komen Foundation, but I’ve never been involved with an organization that received an ‘earmarked’ grant without the clear expectation to provide a clear audit trail. And rightly so – when other people’s money has been given to you for a specific purpose, you should be able to account for it.

  61. Meh.

    I know what SGK is now. I frankly don’t care whether they back off or not; they’ve revealed their true colors and I won’t be fooled in the future.

    The reason that we have separate offices for reproductive health care–including breast care–and not for every other medical specialty (though I would argue with even that) is because we need them. Some people consider it a moral imperative to enforce sexual purity on women, and see denying basic reproductive health care as a means to that end–creating an unmet need that PP tries valiantly to fill.

    If you want to enforce sexual purity on women, of course donating to PP would be shooting yourself in the foot. Nobody confuses this with you promoting breast cancer for *all* women.

    Although “poor” = “sexually impure” is an assumption that could do with re-thinking, in my opinion.

  62. shorter Komen: please dont cut our funds just because we cut pp’s funds.

    or even shorter Komen: cant we have it both ways?

  63. Planned Parenthood has joined the ACLU (among others) on my list of organizations that get annual donations. Your 3-day SGK walk? No, thanks.

  64. @Digital Atheist

    I am not quite sure what you disagree with. The local affiliates say that they were left out of the cycle, I am saying they should have more control. Many people think that it was a politically motivated by the national Board, I am saying change that board. It seems that both Nancy Brinker and Karen Handel share the political aspect on this. I am saying that an Anti-Cancer organization would be better off being just that, instead of being so closely tied to Brinker’s personal narrative. I don’t think that Komen can be trusted because of lies, weasel wording, and constant changes in reasoning.

    I could be an idiot, I often am :), could you please restate your disagreements because I don’t understand.

  65. If you want me to donate to your cause, I have no interest in making you walk, run, jog, jump rope, or rock in a rocking chair in exchange for your donation. if I am willing to donate if you walk, I’m also willing to donate if you don’t, and I’ll make a flat donation rather than a per-mile pledge. I’m told that one aspect of the walk is “raising awareness”. I think we are reaching the point of diminishing marginal return on breast cancer awareness.

    Note this is not the same as donating in exchange for a car wash, a Schadenfreude pie, or a John Scalzi e-book. There is actually a point to these premiums, whereas the point of a jog-a-thon seems to involve the joy of exacting of a bit of suffering from the person soliciting the request. So which is better; schadenfreude, or a schadenfreude pie?

  66. A couple people have drawn a parallel between SGK and Netflix, but I don’t see it. The Netflix kerfuffle seemed to be a case of smart people doing dumb things, but I never got the sense that anyone at Netflix was lying to me. Whereas the statements made by SGK officials (i.e., the ones who didn’t resign in protest) during the dumping of Planned Parenthood and subsequent reversal smack of a dishonesty I find unacceptable in general, much less in situations where someone’s asking me to donate money.

    But overall, this has been educational. I’d never donated to PP before, not for any particular reason, other than the “so many good organizations, only so much money to give to them…” thing. But now I have, and I’ll continue to. As for SGK, not a chance.

  67. Actually my disagreement was only to the part about no one a Komen thinks anyone has done anything wrong. At least one person did, and several affiliates have stated as much also. As regards Karen Handel and crew,I agree with you totally. I don’t see her leaving unless people raise such a stink that it becomes politically expedient to move her out the door.

    I’m sorry my post wasn’t clear. Been trying to help out a long time friend who had a very abusive adolesence and has been doing the flashback thing the last day or so. That stuff always unhinges my brain a bit. Mea culpa.

    As regards being politically motivated, I think this whole thing wouldn’t have blown up as fast as it did/has if they had stated out and out they were doing it for their own political or religious beliefs instead of trying to pretend that it was out of fiduciary responisbility to their donors. In fact most comments i’ve seen at various blogs, forums and news sites have all said this same thing, and those comments came from supporters of both orginazations, some of whom didn’t agree on anything else.

  68. Okay, I would definitely agree with you in that many people within Komen thought that this was wrong and boneheaded. I was actually glad to see many of the affiliates come out in such a way. Those people should receive a lot of credit for any change of heart in the National Organization. I think the internal dissent was as important as the outcry outside the organization. My thoughts are with your friend and you, I am glad that they have someone there now for them who cares.

  69. I’ve always been generally uncomfortable when any one foundation gets such a big slice of the public awareness for a given cause. Where I’ve worked for big organizations, there was almost never a question that if there was to be an effort to support women’s health issues at all, it would be to support Susan G. Komen at the exclusion of all else. Not battered women’s shelter of such-n-such county or crisis nurseries or even some other cancer group, but SGK. It just occupied a huge amount of space in the corporate philanthropy work. Like “you can’t get fired buying IBM” you pretty much couldn’t go wrong raising funds for SGK.

    SGK seemed to play right into the notion that because SGK was so big in the world of breast cancer research, etc., that it let a lot of pro-choice and pro-life folks alike think that SGK was on its side. Now, *of course* this was a political decision, but the funding decision alone doesn’t seem to explain that outrage. It was a pretty moderate piece of PP’s screening/referral budget. Rather, I think there was a sense of betrayal on those pro-choice folks who had simply, without questioned, assumed that SGK was necessarily a pro-choice organization (or at least not a pro-life/anti-PP one). And now, on the rebound, the pro-life folks realize that SGK — if it ever was — can’t now be trusted not to pass along money to PP. So they can kiss that universe of support good-bye. And, of course, lots of pro PP folks can’t really trust them now either.

    Pretty much the worst destruction of a brand I’ve ever seen.

  70. SGK has been somewhat notorious among some in the Cancer community for quite some time, because, despite “For The Cure” being part of their name , they only spend 20% of their budget on actual research.

    The problem isn’t the administrative costs (although their admins are VERY well paid) — every big charity org has those costs.

    No, the problem is that their biggest budget segment (39-odd percent, if I’m recalling correctly) is “Public Education” — which is all well and good… until you dig deeper and find out that they lump merchandising and advertising the Komen brand itself in that category.

    So SGK’s biggest budget expenditure? Promoting SGK.

  71. SGK appears to have pulled off a rare trifecta — they’ve infuriated the Pro-Choice, the Pro-Life, and the I’m-not-involved, all at once!

  72. I think there is a large overlap between SGK supporters & PP supporters. If the health of women (particularly poor ones who struggle to afford care) is important to you than that covers a wide swath that these groups touch. Screwing with one of them, lying about your motivation in doing so and making crude comments about the people who object is going to bring some intense response. The are blinking like a semaphore.

    I wish I could say I will enjoy watching them squirm trying to get back what they so coolly disregarded but I can’t. During the last couple of days I have learned more about SGK than just this one decision that make me question their commitment to helping people. In addition to legal action against other groups wanting to use the words “for the cure” as part of charitable efforts to combat other cancers they have cut funding from stem cell research that offers a real chance for breakthroughs to cure many cancers. They just are not as interested in “for the cure” as they are in their own political agenda and their own aggrandizement.

  73. Personally, I would never have donated to Komen (and I have) if I had known they were giving funds to Planned Parenthood. As an earlier post noted, that does not mean I am anti-breast cancer funding, it means I don’t want to give my money to Planned Parenthood because I don’t agree with their position on abortion. That said, the decision was handled very poorly. I wouldn’t give them a dime now whether they stick with the decision or not.

  74. Motivations? Consequences? Well, as for consequences not too many I think. SKG? Never heard of them before Sir John Scalzi blogs here about them. Planned Parenthood? Heard of them, like most of what they do, but never gave them any money. Just like our political elections when more Americans choose not to vote than those that do, I figure most of America could care less what SKG or PP are doing, playing nice with each other, or not. Next blog topic, please.

  75. Just a couple of quick clarifications — it seems the pink handgun was not officially sanctioned by SGK (in fact, the Discount Guns page mispelled the foundation’s name), and last I saw it had been pulled down anyway.

    Also, continuing to pay out the current grants was (so far as I can tell) always SGK’s plan; their “apology” hasn’t reversed a single thing. They’re just trying to spin the situation in a better direction — and not doing a very good job of it, either.

  76. Motivations? Consequences? Well, as for consequences not too many I think. SKG? Never heard of them before Sir John Scalzi blogs here about them. Planned Parenthood? Heard of them, like most of what they do, but never gave them any money. Just like our political elections when more Americans choose not to vote than those that do, I figure most of America could care less what SKG or PP are doing, playing nice with each other, or not. Next blog topic, please.

    Gary Willis is bored. World, please stimulate him.

  77. Balfour @ 6:58pm
    No doubt, plenty care. My point was that likely a majority could not care less. Then after hitting post on that comment the evening NBC newscast and my local affiliate station newscast lead with the story. And you can’t call it a slow news day, because the jobs numbers surpassed everyone’s expectations this morning. So now, maybe a lot more care after watching tonight’s news broadcasts around the nation. So pay me no mind. I was just surprised at all the broughha (is that a word?) about some SKG outfit that never has appeared (until now) on my personal radar.
    Silbey @ 7:38
    Why copy and paste the entire comment? Would not a sentence or two have been enough? Just picked up a special order of poetry and fiction by Thomas Lynch to read. I’m good.

  78. FWIW, I actually had heard of the Komen foundation before this. I used to do a lot of running and they had a pretty strong presence at plenty of races (odd little side note: There are a few great Kenyan runners with the last name of Komen. Since I always saw their banners at races I sort of assumed that Susan Komen was Kenyan. I’m not quite sure I understood why she’d become the rallying point for a breast cancer group, but I probably just chalked it up to the world being a very strange place).

  79. Well, they’ve just proved that they’re still lying scum. No change in my attitude: pink ribbons mark “don’t buy” items, and PP will get my donations…when I have money again. Down with SGK (to put it nicely), and the horse they rode in on.

  80. So, I’ve been thinking about SGK, and this whole situation makes me sad. Back when the Foundation started, which I remember FWIW, there wasn’t much awareness of breast cancer, or women’s risk. SGK did a remarkable job moving this issue into the public consciousness, raising awareness and money.

    Some folks may not remember, but in the ’80′s, almost 100% of breast cancer research was performed on men. It was a huge issue for the very small portion of the population, mostly feminists. One would get ridiculed for focusing on “women’s issues” in public forums on cancer, funding, and the intersection thereof. SGK was as important and influential as Act Up, and I want to acknowledge that.

    And I think that is where much of the anger comes from. For decades, SGK supported PP as part of the embattled network of women’s services. SGK defended their support of PP in public statements. Many people supported SGK as part of a holistic commitment to supporting women, the poor, and cancer victims/survivors, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, or sexual orientation. To suddenly withdraw that support, and in such a transparently hypocritical way, feels like a betrayal.

    We walked, and ran, and sometimes hobbled. We gave money we didn’t have to spare. We believed in the cause, through questionable product tie-ins and squirrely reporting, because it was about The Mission. About Women. About Our Health, Our Bodies, Ourselves.

    And then it wasn’t, it was about politics and religion and partisan games. It was about policy changes that were unevenly applied, that targeted the already embattled, and a board that wasn’t honest enough to say so straight up.

    If SGK had said, “We think abortion is wrong, we regret all our past associations with PP and other agencies that support, perform, or refer abortion services, and we will no longer partner with these agencies in any way, shape, or form,” I would still have withdrawn my support, but I would have respected their stance, and I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to avoid supporting them through their tie-ins.

    As it is, I will actively reject and avoid SGK, including their partnerships. I really don’t mind if you are an asshole, but I prefer an honest asshole.

  81. It reminds me of my dog’s reaction when I produce the remnants of something he wasn’t supposed to eat. He looks up and around, anywhere but at the scraps I’m holding out in front of him, saying “Did you do this???!!!”

  82. If SGK had said, “We think abortion is wrong, we regret all our past associations with PP and other agencies that support, perform, or refer abortion services, and we will no longer partner with these agencies in any way, shape, or form,” I would still have withdrawn my support, but I would have respected their stance, and I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to avoid supporting them through their tie-ins.

    Yup. It is not what they did. It is not why they did it. It is how they did it. We can never trust them again, because it is clear that they will lie and hide their motivations.

    Nothing like a good old fashion shunning to get people’s attention.

  83. @ Billy Quiet,

    I can almost respect people who are against abortions if the majority of them weren’t also against the use of contraceptives.

  84. One last thing…I know SGK is a human endeavour and as such is Not Perfect.
    However I think of the 12 year old girl I know who does the run/walk every year in honor of her
    grandpa who had breast cancer and I grieve for HER disillusionment.

  85. Gary Willis @ 7:58 p.m.: The word you’re looking for is most likely “brouhaha”. Some great synonyms for that are “kerfuffle” and “tohubohu”.

  86. Why copy and paste the entire comment? Would not a sentence or two have been enough?

    I thought all of your inanity needed repeating.

  87. I’m not sure this will hurt Komen with the anti-choice crowd too badly. Now they can go to them and say, in effect, “well, we TRIED to do the right thing, but the mean old liberals forced us to give money to the babykilling sluts. Wah!”

    Nothing soothes the right wing like a nice unjustified claim of victimization. It’ll be Obama’s fault before the month is out, believe you me.

  88. @Julia B: Donnybrook! Contretemps! Fustercluck! HULLABALLOOOO!

    On-topic: Yeah, definitely seems like backpedaling in place. Promising to honor a commitment already in place is by no means a promise to continue that commitment in the future.

  89. @Goggolor: They are saying that, if you Google on the response, albeit without the hyperbole. What’s interesting – and I admit I don’t often read the more socially conservative blogs – is that there are two narrative choices in what is mostly civil debate: The Liberal Elite (implied: money & privilege) vs. the conservative grassroots, and the Liberal Elite bullies (media, public faces) vs the people who are struggling to do the right thing. They do consider this to be an orchestrated attack on Komen — orchestrated, planned, and carried out. I honestly don’t think they believe that the outrage is genuine on any level, which is unfortunate.

    What I’ve also seen crop up in over half the comment threads is the insistence that Planned Parenthood is a commercial organization which makes money hand over fist through the abortion procedures. It’s stated as fact, and not by someone using the same handle on every board, although it’s entirely possible it’s one person posting everywhere. It’s not something I’ve ever read before, and not, for instance, something that would come up on the Whatever.

    No one, however, on either side of the debate is particularly happy with Komen’s latest statement. But while we’re pointing out Handel and the various Bush connections Brinker obviously has, they’re emphasizing Brinker’s previous position on Planned Parenthood boards, and the award she received from Planned Parenthood. They clearly believe she can’t be trusted, because she’s a sleazy politician in bed with – yes! – the Liberal Elite (there is some hyperbole in the designation; we are alternately pro-abortion, Liberal Left bullies, or ‘the death culture’. Aside from the designations, though, it’s civil.)

  90. @Michelle-Well, I wasn’t expecting them to use the actual words “babykilling sluts,” though I’ve seen language on some newspaper site comment threads (which I keep swearing never to return to, and yet find myself drawn back to. I must be a glutton for punishment) that comes pretty close. No, the insinuations will be carefully disguised and appropriately dog-whistled, and will probably come from proxies.

    However, I would ask you to beware false equivalencies. Just because the two sides are making arguments that display certain symmetries does not mean that they both have equal merit. I don’t think you’re saying that here, but I’ve heard enough “Whateves. Both sides do it.” to make me a very sad Goggolor indeed. One side lies, consistently, instinctively, and as a first resort. While the other side is not entirely free from mendacity, I would posit it is not nearly the prodigy of untruths and paranoia that represents the right wing in this country of ours.

  91. They didn’t blink. They just prevaricated. They still plan to defund Planned Parenthood. They just paid lip service that people were upset by it. The Foundation is corporate sponsored and likes to advocate for treatment and diagnosis — the things pharmaceutical companies and the medical industries get lots of money from — and not so much for prevention methods. Corporations have a vested interest in defunding Planned Parenthood and trying to direct government money and donations that go to it towards themselves and so this foundation did what they were told. On the upside, more money is now going directly to Planned Parenthood from the PR backlash, at least for a little bit. Being for women’s health on the one hand and being for women as property with no body rights on the other is not a very tenable position. But the reality is that this foundation has the right to do whatever they want with their money. The moral here seems to be always check out who is running and funding the charities you’re giving to.

  92. A reversal in one day is pretty powerful, especially on this subject. I only wish everyone who rallied yesterday could muster the same gumption to vote for their representative locally and nationally. This movement really shows the power of the citizenry. I meet so many “liberals” here in Texas that don’t vote because they all think it won’t matter- Komen, SOPA, Occupy all make me want to shout! Texas certainly won’t be blue anytime soon, but we can certainly moderate the discussion if we can all be just as civilly passionate as Mr Scalzi has demonstrated.

  93. For Tom at 9:33. I hear you man. I’m not against contraceptives. I understand why abortion and contraception come up in the same conversation, but they are totally different issues.

    I never actually considered myself pro-life or pro-choice until I ran for public office. It was the mid 90′s and I was single and much younger obviously. So I was a lot closer to the question of, “What happens if she gets pregnant?”

    I told myself, and those who asked on the campaign trail, that abortion wasn’t what I would choose, but I didn’t feel comfortable legislating on the issue. Who was I to say what a woman did with her body? Well, let me assure you, to the pro-life crowd, you are either willing to LEAD on pro-life, or you are pro-choice. Period.

    Back then, the Christian Coalition was the main voice of the pro-life movement. They were very powerful in the primary process, and this was their defining issue. Now, I think you would call them the Evangelical wing of the party, and they are still powerful, but the issue of pro-life is even bigger, I believe, than their voting block in the Republican party. Not because it is a litmus test for most of the party. Less government regulation, fewer government mandates, less deficit spending, are all more important right now to most of us. But at the same time, more of the moderate, less religious wing of the party have come to accept that abortion actually takes a human life.

    Notice please that I don’t say abortion is wrong because the Bible says so. Most of the people I know who are pro-life believe that you are killing a small living person if you abort a baby. I’m sorry if that offends you. That is what they honestly believe, just as many of you believe very strongly otherwise.

    I will tell you that I do not believe in a Christian God. Or any other religion’s god. I just don’t see it.
    But the first time I saw a sonogram of my little buddy, who was the size of a Teddy Graham at the time, I became instantly pro-life. He was so obviously alive.

    So, anyway. I’ve been on both sides of the issue. There’s nothing quite like having someone tell you they’re going to vote for you because you are “the lesser of two evils”. That actually hurts. But I understand the old bat that said it better now. Hopefully, I’ve helped you understand the pro-lifers a little better too. We aren’t all pro-life for the same reason.

    If you don’t agree with me, please don’t just make some snarky comment. I put a lot of thought into what I said here.

  94. @ Craig Ranapia

    And rightly so – when other people’s money has been given to you for a specific purpose, you should be able to account for it.

    Not to go off topic, but it seems like a lot of problems could be solved by making a legal prerequisite to tax-exempt non-profit status for organizations wishing such status to simply open their accounting books to anyone’s scrutiny.

    @ Billy Quiets

    Less government regulation, fewer government mandates, less deficit spending, are all more important right now to most of us.

    Republicans always say that. I suspect many of Republican voters believe it. But Republican politicians never do it, they just pursue regulation of different things than Democrats. Social conservatives are the hypocrites of the GOP.

  95. It’s a total PR disaster for the Komen foundation, and it’s hurt their brand. In the past, they’ve raised a lot of money by teaming up with companies that want to market using their brand. Now that they’ve lost their image as apolitical and uncontroversial, I wonder if companies are going to be so enthusiastic. Or if consumers are going to be as willing to by pink-ribbon adorned items.

    But if the Komen foundation really is mortally wounded, I hope another organization can pick up the mantle. American women face a nearly 1 in 8 risk of developing breast cancer. That so many people stepped up to the plate and donated to Planned Parenthood’s breast health fund is a heartening sign. I hope funding for cancer research isn’t hurt by this incident.

    Joshua Zucker@12:16 am: Thanks for posting that. I admit, I hadn’t seen the interview until now. I agree with Rosen’s analysis–it was a complete train-wreck.

    Billy Quiets @1:53 am: I don’t want to get sucked into an (off-topic) debate about abortion, but when it comes to Planned Parenthood, abortion and contraception are not “totally different issues”. Many people rely on PP for access to contraception. There’s no other organization ready to pick up the slack if PP went out of business. That’s what drives me nuts about the push to de-fund Planned Parenthood by people who are anti-abortion: if it succeeded, it would likely increase the number of unintended pregnancies, and would lead to increased abortion rates.

  96. @ CLP

    That’s what drives me nuts about the push to de-fund Planned Parenthood by people who are anti-abortion: if it succeeded, it would likely increase the number of unintended pregnancies, and would lead to increased abortion rates.

    Ascribing reason to social conservatives is a quick path to a migraine. As for the irreligious PP haters, I can only assume wishful thinking.

  97. After reading a lot of the commentary regarding SGK’s actions both on this and their tactics on other fronts before this imbroglio I am reminded of a storyline on The West Wing.

    The episode showed that Pres. Bartlet’s middle daughter worked as researcher in an HPV vaccine study and the wife of the VP leaked this tidbit to a conservative politician in order to cause controversy so their federal funding gets pulled and hopefully directed towards breast cancer research.

    That’s all for this small detour in of topicness.

  98. @ Patrick V.

    The episode showed that Pres. Bartlet’s middle daughter worked as researcher in an HPV vaccine study and the wife of the VP leaked this tidbit to a conservative politician in order to cause controversy so their federal funding gets pulled and hopefully directed towards breast cancer research.

    Perhaps someone who wanted PP to get funding without it routing through Komen used their mind control powers to convince the Komen board to shoot themselves in the foot. If this was part of some byzantine plot to make PP rich! rich! rich!, I wonder where getting PP defunded factors into the conspirators master plan. To find out, tune in next week…

  99. One of the things ‘social conservative’ means is “gay-hating shithead.” If you’re anti-Choice but not a gay-hating shithead, the label ‘social conservative’ really doesn’t quite apply to you.

    I think that would be a rare case, but it IS possible to be a forced-birth advocate (so-called “pro-Life”) without being a gay-hating shithead.

  100. What I like best about Whatever is that it doesn’t usually descend to name-calling in an echo-chamber.

  101. Komen began a slow slide in my mind when they became a “brand”. Putting pink on everything that moved as a show of support for the fight against breast cancer seemed to commercialize something very serious and painful to thousands of people. I don’t have the figures handy, but it’s been written about a lot – not much of the money spent on pink gear actually goes to the charity and even less to actual research. Now there are even pink handguns and rifles that purport to be donating to charity. Really? Seems to me they just lost track of the mission somewhere along the way.

    Pulling money for breast cancer screenings hurts the women who cannot afford alternatives. It’s not that PP will have to stop without SGK support, but a question of how many more patients can be served. SGK tried to make political hay and ended up with the manure instead. It’s what they deserved. I won’t contribute to Komen anymore. American Cancer Society gets my money from now on – and frankly, there’s a whole lot of cancer research out there that gets a lot less funding than breast cancer. I’ll put my money there for awhile.

  102. Mike@2:56:So if all of these services are “the same mission” then how does one account for how donations made to the organization are allocated

    Why yes, I would love to help children in Africa for as little as fifty cents a day. But I really want my money spent on feeding them rice. Otherwise, they’ll just waste it on drugs, alcohol, hookers, and florescent lights for their hopped up Nissan’s. I mean, seriously, have you seen those Nissans?

  103. I want to protest on behalf of weasels. They’re not so bad, blinking or not. The Komen PR and their blinking was more like that of a cold-eyed lizard, looking for a bug to gobble up.

  104. CLP at 2:58,
    Your comment–”what drives me nuts about the push to de-fund Planned Parenthood by people who are anti-abortion: if it succeeded, it would likely increase the number of unintended pregnancies, and would lead to increased abortion rates.”–would be an excellent question for the Republican nominee, or any of the Rep candidates in the next debate. I would be interested to hear if they would be willing to fund free and unlimited contraception in return for eliminating funding for abortion. Sorry to stray off topic.

  105. BQ:

    That’s an excellent question for them. I doubt they’d give a straight answer, though – if they came out in favor of universal free contraception the religious conservatives would throw a grand-mal conniption.

  106. Billy Quiets:
    If you are familiar with the organized pro-life movement, then you are aware that movement does not consider contraception and abortion to be separate issues. The major pro-life political organizations all have stances on contraception ranging from officially having ‘no position’ to flat-out opposition. (I am told that there are smaller, secular pro-life activist groups are pro-contraception, but they are very much in the minority, and I frankly can’t think of one.)

    The opposition to Planned Parenthood is not simply about abortion. If it were, there would be pressure on PP to stop providing abortion services but otherwise to keep on keepin’ on with what it’s doing. Since you explain to us that you have spent a great deal of time on the political wagon with social conservatives, I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you why this is.

  107. The interesting thing about Planned Parenthood is that its members used to be more Republican than the general population. Barry Goldwater supported it in the 50s. But then opposition to abortion wasn’t always a Republican issue either. In a 1972 Gallup poll, 68 percent of Republicans said the decision to have an abortion should be made by a woman and her physician.

    Back on topic. I don’t see Komen really backtracking until they lose corporate sponsorship. If this all subsides without them having one major corporation pulling their donations, then I see no reason why Planned Parenthood should expect to receive any future grants.

  108. Another lesson here, of course, is that fewer organizations are going to be willing to pass along money to Planned Parenthood in the first place (or, really, any politically charged organization). The political brouhaha has been so enormous, that many organizations aren’t going to want to get themselves involved in an organization where de-coupling themselves from it is this ugly. Now, SGK was a far higher profile target and their mission is more closely linked with women’s health stuff, but it would be foolish for any organization to put themselves in a place where changing their mind about something could cause them this much trouble.

  109. Gary Willis, take your precious ennui elsewhere.
    —–
    The good bit here is SGK has been revealed to be a rather lame organization for its stated purpose — it’s actual purpose seems to be giving ladies who lunch something to do.

  110. @tom
    “I can almost respect people who are against abortions if the majority of them weren’t also against the use of contraceptives.”

    I would go a few steps further.
    If you are against abortion, you better be for things which reduce the need for abortion.
    1) free pre and post natal care (notice I said FREE, not cheap or reduced)
    2) child support for unwed mothers so they can either stay home and raise the child on their own or work.
    3) you should have adopted a large number of orphans and provide foster care for other children. The number one reason for abortion is unable to raise the child themselves. You have the resource but havent taken 5 kids into your house? shame on you.
    4) free birth control

    If your goal is to reduce the number of abortions, then you better be doing something real to make a difference. Otherwise you are just in favor of punishing poor women by making abortion illegal.

    Rich women will always just got to another state or country to get their abortion.
    When you ban abortion, you are also going to include mandatory pregnancy test for all women leaving the state or country, right? And prosecuting women who get an abortion elsewhere, right?

  111. Eric RoM:

    “Gary Willis, take your precious ennui elsewhere.”

    Eric, there’s only one person here who gets to tell people to leave the thread, and it’s not you. Please remember that going forward.

    Beyond this, folks, let’s please remember not to lapse into a general discussion about abortion politics; keep the discussion centered on the Komen retraction, please.

  112. What Xopher said.

    As a federal employee, most of my contributions have always been through the Combined Federal Campaign, and Planned Parenthood and the ACLU Foundation are among the larger tranches. I tend not to give to foundations for specific diseases, as they have a bad reputation in general (for a particularly dark fictional look, see Theodore Sturgeon’s “The Comedian’s Children”).

  113. @The Pathetic Earthling: I rather doubt that any organization wanting to donate to PP is going to suddenly say to itself “Wait, you mean giving to Planned Parenthood is controversial?! Well, whoda thunk? We’ll just give money to the Fund for Adorable Kittens instead so nobody gets mad at us.”

    SGK offers financial grants to organizations that provide breast-cancer screening. Presumably, their grant-application and giving process is pretty much the same as most organizations, where money is made available, various groups apply for it, and SGK reviews their applications and decides whether they should get it and how much. As of 2009, in a statement no longer on SGK’s website, they were stating that they audited the grant to PP to make sure it was only used for breast-cancer screening – which, again, isn’t unusual, as you don’t want find out that later that instead of breast-cancer screening your grantee spent the money on hookers and blow.

  114. @ Andrew Hackard : No I think that means that SGK wanted to make sure that none of the grant money was being used to support the funding of abortions in any way, directly or indirectly. Perhaps the board of SGK felt that Planned Parenthood was fudging their documentation on where the grant money was going to? Wouldn’t be the first time a grantee did something like that but I think they investigated and didn’t find anything solid to substantiate their suspicions.

    I continue to believe that no matter what reasons SGK gave for not funding Planned Parenthood in the future, PP would have made a mountain out of a molehill and made a political issue out of it because everything that affects them is viewed by them through their political worldview. SGK could have said “We want to directly fund breast cancer screenings and mammograms for the poor and uninsured and not give grant money to a middleman who takes a portion of the grant for their administrative costs” and PP would have still thrown a hissy fit and accused them of “caving into the extreme right”.

    Health care screenings, contraceptive distribution and mammogram referrals for the poor, the under insured, the uninsured and others are, in my opinion, public relations and public policy camouflage for what Planned Parenthood views as its main mission; advocacy for abortion in public policy and being a provider of abortion services. It allows them to take Title X family planning grant money and mesh its abortion services into what they offer for contraceptive distribution and family planning services. Planned Parenthood views abortion without post Roe legal restrictions as part and parcel of comprehensive family planning and refuses to recognize that a majority of Americans disagrees with that viewpoint.

  115. Chris Shaffer:

    Planned Parenthood views abortion without post Roe legal restrictions as part and parcel of comprehensive family planning and refuses to recognize that a majority of Americans disagrees with that viewpoint.

    Yeah, no. As usual, it’s more complicated than that. Most Americans are pro-choice, at the moment, but given the theoretical morality question, most find it questionable or immoral. The numbers change with the weather, as with many, many issues, so trying to nail down a majority is a lot like pissing into the wind: you get wet *and* you get all stinky.

    Planned Parenthood is pretty open about its mission: providing comprehensive healthcare to whole women, and not just certain parts of women. SGK decided to divide women up into parts, and disassociate themselves from the PP mission. That’s not a molehill to women–who are whole, comprehensive people, and not divided into pure and beautiful baby-incubators or dirty whores who deserve whatever they get. And calling the righteous fury of over half the population a “molehill” created by Planned Parenthood is not just insulting, it’s misogynist on a very deep, scary level.

    The evangelical right made women’s bodies into a political issue. Having a uterus is a pre-existing condition. Issues are not molehills because they “only” affect the uterus-having *majority* of the American population.

    Frankly, if having testicles or a prostate made you ineligible for insurance, forced you to go to ridiculous and costly lengths for a standard annual exam, and protestors picketed your bathroom just in case you might be whacking off in the shower, you wouldn’t be calling *that* issue a molehill.

    Damn. Now I’m angry, again. And I was doing so well…

  116. Health care screenings, contraceptive distribution and mammogram referrals for the poor, the under insured, the uninsured and others are, in my opinion, public relations and public policy camouflage for what Planned Parenthood views as its main mission; advocacy for abortion in public policy and being a provider of abortion services.

    Wow, so 97% of their business is a facade for 3% of their business? They’re faking all that stuff about helping out poor women with a range of OB/GYN services, just so they push abortions on innocent and unsuspecting pregnant women?

    That’s offensive on so many levels that I can’t even begin to start. What’s worse than ‘mansplaining’?

  117. Health care screenings, contraceptive distribution and mammogram referrals for the poor, the under insured, the uninsured and others are, in my opinion, public relations and public policy camouflage for what Planned Parenthood views as its main mission; advocacy for abortion in public policy and being a provider of abortion services.

    Clearly innumerate.

  118. I think SGK found out they had a solid contract, and PP would sue. That would be a nasty court battle, since PP would hardly be shy about publishing the proceedings, so SGK backed off until the contract expires. Given that I don’t think it will be renewed, it’s not a blink so much as an alternative path.

  119. “everything that affects them is viewed by them through their political worldview. “

    The irony is strong in this one.

    Also the ignorance and refusal to educate oneself. But the irony is the big thing.

  120. @Christopher Shaffer: Look, we get it; you don’t like PP and are opposed to abortion, and therefore do not think SGK should give them a penny. That’s fine, but you hurt your own credibility when you try to bolster this opinion with things that are not only unsupported (SGK has never suggested it withdrew money from PP because of misuse) but are the opposite of true (until it pulled funding, SGK’s website stated that it carefully audited PP’s use of those funds). Credibility and poor arguments hurt you with everyone except those who already have season passes to your echo chamber. And you do want to preach outside the choir, don’t you?

    @Roxanne King: This was a grant, not a contract. PP did not contract with SGK to provide funds for services. I feel pretty confident that if there were the slimmest possibility of blaming PP for its turnabuot, SGK would have said “….well we don’t want to get sued”.

  121. @John: Roger that. I meant it figuratively.

    Perhaps if he sticks around he’ll develop interests outside his current narrow scope.

  122. Chris Shaffer – I’m pretty sure that abortion is “part and parcel of comprehensive family planning”. Otherwise it’s not all that comprehensive. Goodness knows the family tree I’m a part of would look a good deal different had abortion been legal about 30 years earlier than it was.

    SGK has, unfortunately for them, tipped their hand to the point where the scrutiny is starting to hurt them, even with the specifics of this debacle aside. I suspect a fairly small percentage of their donors were aware that their major product was their own self-promotion, for example. Or that their criteria for supporting research were so narrow.

    It’s fine by me. I think the world is better served by donating more directly, rather than to the overarching pink monster. PP gets a donation from me in my mother’s name to fund for breast exams, and another one, unrestricted, in my own name.

  123. Kay, TLWiz: The problem is that less ‘photogenic’ charities get less in the way of direct donations, and umbrella organizations help remedy that imbalance. For example, mosquito bed-nets are amazingly useful at cutting down malaria rates, but most would-be donors have no idea that they exist. Yes, there is some wastage along the way, but the alternative is that some worthy causes don’t get funded at all.

  124. As I am not a US citizen and follow your inner politics to much reduce extent than most people here, I fail to understand the scales of the outrage here. After all this foundation, as I understand it, donated in the past and still donates to many charities among which are cancer charities. As a donor, they have a right to decide which cause they donate to (by the way I completely disagree with their original decision to cut donation) just as you have a right to choose which cause you want to donate to. However, charity is just that, charity, not obligation.
    The media, as the article you referred us to described it, created a “level 5 shitstorm” because it didn’t like the decision, but to me it looked like just another case of an organization being forced into decisions by people who think they know everything (meaning many reporters) and are always sitting high and mighty. The question to be asked here- is which charity have they donated to recently. Some people should really not be so quick to throw stones.
    I will state, of course that your (John Scalzi) decision to “pick up the slack” and stand, both by words and actions (financial), behind your opinion is admirable.

  125. Billy Quiets: ” I would be interested to hear if they would be willing to fund free and unlimited contraception in return for eliminating funding for abortion. ”

    Actually, most of them have already flat out stated that they’re against contraception because there’s a 1% chance that some contraceptives, when taken by a recently pregnant woman, would cause the pregnancy to abort, therefore ABORTION.

    Billy, please stop pretending you’re merely pro-life when you’ve admitted that you’re anti-choice. To reiterate, “pro-life” means “I would prefer it if no abortions had to happen, ever, and would choose not to have one myself” (although the latter half only applies if you’re a woman); “anti-choice” means “I don’t want abortions to happen, and I don’t want any pregnant woman to have a choice in the matter because my convictions trump their freedom.”

  126. @ Mike Crichton

    For example, mosquito bed-nets are amazingly useful at cutting down malaria rates, but most would-be donors have no idea that they exist. Yes, there is some wastage along the way, but the alternative is that some worthy causes don’t get funded at all.

    I agree. And as long as the umbrella org is doing what it claims without the political bias it declaims, I’m fine with some administrative costs associated with getting the funding where I wouldn’t know to allocate it. But, as I have discovered the last few days, Komen’s administrative overhead is spent largely on advertising. I’d rather fund research. So while I’m glad they decided, for whatever reason, to continue funding PP, I don’t consider their use of funds optimal and I won’t be sending them any direct donations.

    @ NC

    As a donor, they have a right to decide which cause they donate to (by the way I completely disagree with their original decision to cut donation) just as you have a right to choose which cause you want to donate to. However, charity is just that, charity, not obligation.
    The media, as the article you referred us to described it, created a “level 5 shitstorm” because it didn’t like the decision, but to me it looked like just another case of an organization being forced into decisions by people who think they know everything (meaning many reporters) and are always sitting high and mighty. The question to be asked here- is which charity have they donated to recently. Some people should really not be so quick to throw stones.

    How did the media “force” Komen to do anything. Did they put a gun to the head of every dissenting donor and say, you can’t donate to Komen? It works both ways; Komen is not obligated to fund anyone, and Komen’s field of potential donors are not obligated to give them their money. Nor would I ever, under any circumstances, support any law that coerced who they funded; and I’ve heard not one person on this blog in two posts and more than five hundred comments suggest such a law. So I’m not sure where you’re coming from on this other than what seems to be a belief that expressing an opinion to people who may or may not agree with it constitutes force. Perhaps I misunderstood your meaning.

    The media isn’t some magic mass-hypnosis machine and reporters are as free to express outrage, whether you or anyone else agree with it, as the rest of the public is to ignore them, heed someone else, and/or start their own blog.

  127. Rens: This thread is about the Susan G. Komen Foundation and how they handled their decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood. It’s not about my personal beliefs on abortion. So here is an interesting fact for you that is actually germane to the conversation. Did you know that the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s 2010 contribution of $580,000 to Planned Parenthood last year was less than the annual salary and benefits of Planned Parenthood’s director Cecile Richards?

    And now to address your post, I’m not “pretending” anything. As I wrote above, to those who vote based on this issue, if you aren’t willing to LEAD on the issue as a candidate, you are not pro-life, you are pro-choice.

    I am pro-life in every sense. Yes, I am anti-abortion, anti-choice. Whatever you want to call it. I think if you abort a fetus you are killing a small living person. Is that clear enough for you?

  128. Did you know that the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s 2010 contribution of $580,000 to Planned Parenthood last year was less than the annual salary and benefits of Planned Parenthood’s director Cecile Richards?

    Given how deftly Planned Parenthood played the tiff with SGK, I’d say they got their money’s worth.

  129. Regarding Ms. Richards’ salary, most of the information I could find came via Lifenews, an organization which wouldn’t seem to have much reason to round down or give her the benefit of the doubt. In 2010 they reported that her 2009 salary was about $385K, with another $11K in deferred compensation and other benefits. In the fiscal year ending 6/30/2010 her salary appeared to be slightly down at $353K, with additional benefits not noted. At the tail end of last year, ProLife Action, another group one wouldn’t assume willing to give Ms. Richards much benefit of the doubt, slammed her “nearly $400K” salary.

    In short, even when I confine my search to sites that are extremely hostile to Ms. Richards and PP, and wish to put her in the worst possible light, I’m not seeing any mention anywhere of a salary + benefits topping $400,000, so I am uncertain where your figure of more than $580,000 in 2010 comes from.

  130. Billy Quiets: I don’t particularly like the idea of people getting paid exorbitantly for running charities either, but the argument is that if the organizations don’t offer “competitive” salaries, they won’t attract competent administrators. And from what I’ve read, they still generally get paid less that someone in an equivalent for-profit organization would. As long as corporate CEOs are making millions, it’s pretty much inevitable that large charity CEOs make hundreds of thousands.

  131. BQ: Did you know that the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s 2010 contribution of $580,000 to Planned Parenthood last year was less than the annual salary and benefits of Planned Parenthood’s director

    But… but… I thought republicans LOVED the idea of privatized social welfare programs…. Ya know, the magical thinking that believes “Are there no work houses? No prisons?” is being generous with the lazy bums? Now you’re telling me that republicans ALSO want these privatized social welfare programs to be done for free??? I think we’ve reached the magical thinking limit here. Any more, and it’ll turn into an infinite improbability machine.

    Oh, wait, I just realized, republicans complain about privatized social welfare programs paying too high of a salary only when its a social program they disapprove of. Which is exactly why they want to privatize everything: so they only pay taxes for the social programs they want to support.

  132. Something that just occurred to me today: Komen’s normal contribution to Planned Parenthood equals about 1/500th of their own budget, and less that 1/1000th of PP’s. Such a relatively small grant was only ever a token for PR purposes anyways, so it’s kind of amusing that it’s come back to bite them.

  133. I wonder if I’m the only one who regards this latest development with a curious sense of relief. Now I can despise the Komen Foundation openly instead of simmering with unspoken resentment for their pink-slathered bullshit.

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