Seeing Red Over Pink

Since the Susan G. Komen Foundation announced its decision to stop funding cancer screening and prevention programs at Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of health care to low-income women, the foundation’s founder and CEO Nancy Brinker has been trying her best to control the damage done to the foundation’s reputation.

So far, it’s not going very well. Brinker posted a “Straight Talk” “>video on the foundation’s website in an attempt to defend the foundation’s decision by insisting that “some have regrettably mischaracterized” the decision, that the “scurrilous accusations being hurled at this organization are profoundly hurtful” and a “dangerous distraction” from the foundation’s mission.

Brinker took that message to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports to not only chastise the foundation’s critics, but to offer an entirely new justification for decision. Earlier this week, Komen said the “key reason” it would cease its grants to Planned Parenthood is because of a congressional investigation. That would be the investigation launched by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns, whose stated goal is to defund Planned Parenthood at the federal level and ultimately, to see it put out of business for good.

That’s not what Brinker said when she spoke to Andrea Mitchell, though. She insisted the investigation “isn’t the only issue,” and besides, the foundation isn’t really pulling its funding:

It’s a mischaracterization, certainly, of our goals, our mission, and everything that we do. In fact, we haven’t defunded planned parenthood. We still have three grants that we’ve committed to, at least for another year, through the end of the grant cycle.

Right. In other words, the Komen Foundation will fulfill its already-promised grants to Planned Parenthood for this year, but after that, well, screw you, Planned Parenthood, and the millions of low-income women to whom you provide health care.

This decision has already been a disaster for the Komen Foundation. Its Facebook page has been inundated with critical comments that can’t be deleted fast enough. Former Komen Foundation supporters are encouraging others to give their dollars to other cancer research non-profits. Planned Parenthood supporters have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to make up for the lost Komen grants, including a $250,000 donation from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Members of Congress are calling on the foundation to reverse its position. Komen Foundation affiliates around the country are criticizing the decision. And now the executive director of the foundation’s Los Angeles chapter has resigned in protest.

In other words, no one is buying the foundation’s explanation that its decision was not politically motivated. Forced to choose between an organization that makes politically motivated decisions in the name of caring for women, and an organization that actually provides care to women, it’s pretty clear where American women stand. And it’s not with the pink ribbons. They stand with Planned Parenthood.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published February 2, 2012, at Daily Kos. Photo by DonkeyHotey via Flickr photostream, used with Creative Commons 2.0 License.
Kaili Joy Gray

Kaili Joy Gray

Kaili Joy Gray was born in 1978 in Santa Barbara. She worked on her first political campaign at six years old, as a doorknocker for her father’s City Council bid. Her first political act came in fifth grade when she successfully led a protest against the teacher for not calling on girls often enough. A graduate of UC Santa Cruz with a degree in women’s studies and a dean’s award in economics, her proudest academic achievement is that the state of California paid her to run her yap as the Opinion-Page Editor for City College. Kaili spent a year living in Virginia, where she learned that the most important issue in a gubernatorial race is who loves the death penalty more, and then lived in Washington, where she enjoyed the rain thirteen months a year. She now happily resides in the Bay Area, where the politics and the weather are pretty much perfect.