Thursday, February 2, 2012
Komen Foundation, Planned Parenthood Square Off Over Abortion
Actually, Komen's official line is that it acted in accordance with a recently enacted policy to not fund organizations that are under investigation by local, state, or federal authorities. Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, wants to know if Planned Parenthood has used federal funds for abortions. Because of that investigation, Planned Parenthood is out as far as Komen is concerned.
Get it? As long as some conservative politician investigates Planned Parenthood, the Komen ban will stand.
"When Komen’s board voted on the policy, several members asked who would be affected by the new policy. Elizabeth Thompson, Komen’s president, said...'Planned Parenthood is the only one we know of.'" ( http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/us/uproar-as-komen-foundation-cuts-money-to-planned-parenthood.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1)
There is further evidence that Planned Parenthood was singled out and targeted, and that Rep. Stearns' investigation was merely a convenient excuse. "Foes of abortion and Web sites critical of it have criticized the Komen foundation’s financing of Planned Parenthood for years. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and several bishops in Ohio issued statements last year raising concerns about donating to the Komen foundation. In December, LifeWay Christian Resources, which is owned by the Southern Baptist Convention, said it was recalling a pink Bible it was selling because a dollar per copy was going to the Komen foundation."
The Komen Foundation denies that the decision had anything to do with Karen Handel, Komen’s new senior vice president for public policy. The Republican ran for governor of Georgia in 2010 and wrote during her campaign, "Since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood."
The foundation may have felt it had a crisis because of threats from anti-abortionists to withdraw support. But caving in to a few may cost it far more support. "Online petitions have been established to pressure the Komen foundation to reverse its decision. Planned Parenthood Federation of America has launched a Breast Health Emergency Fund to ensure continued funding to the 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates that will soon lose their Komen grants." (http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-komen-planned-parenthood-20120202,0,5429206.story)
That Breast Health Emergency Fund hopes to make up for all the lost Komen funds. As of Wednesday, it had raised $400,000 of the $700,000 it had expected from Komen. Surprising to me, Komen puts down Planned Parenthood for trying to fill its funding gap. “'Why are they going nuts?” (John D. Raffaelli, a Komen board member and Washington lobbyist) asked rhetorically. 'And the answer is that they want to raise money, and they’re doing it at the expense of a humanitarian organization that shares their goals and has given them millions of dollars over the years.'” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/us/uproar-as-komen-foundation-cuts-money-to-planned-parenthood.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1)
Planned Parenthood sees the Komen Foundation as hurting and even killing women because of its anti-abortion stance. "Dawn Laguens, an executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said that Komen’s money had over the years underwritten breast cancer screenings for 170,000 women, some of whose lives were saved as a result. She said she had no sympathy for Komen’s attempt to mollify donors by ending its relationship with a controversial provider of women’s health services. Only a small percentage of Planned Parenthood’s expenditures go toward abortion services.
“'I’m going to reserve my empathy for the women left on the side of the road by somebody who has given into bullying,' Ms. Laguens said. 'I think it’s particularly curious that they wanted to quietly put this decision out there.'”
Judy Blume, the children’s book author, agreed in a Tweet. “Susan Komen would not give in to bullies or to fear. Too bad the foundation bearing her name did.”
There's bad blood on both sides and the battle lines have been drawn between women's rights and anti-abortion camps. Both the Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood are losing support, but both are gaining some support too. Whether this crisis will affect either long-term will be worth watching in 2012. The Presidential election may serve to add to the mud-pie-slinging arsenal on both sides. It's too bad that two organizations with the same goal have to create a crisis for each other.
If you work for a hospital, clinic, or other organization that provides or counsels on abortion, be prepared. This could be a tough year for you as anti-abortionists take heart at victories such as the Komen Foundation. Better prepare your crisis communications plan right away.