Komen, why’d ya have to lie to me?

thanks, Katie @ Uneasy Pink for the laugh!

Oh, Komen. Komen, Komen, Komen. Why’d you have to lie?

There might have been a chance — a teensy, weensy chance — that you could have come out of this firestorm with a speck of dignity and integrity left, but you blew it. Big time.

Sigh.

Well, the good thing about Komen’s decision to kick Planned Parenthood to the curb — and to bold-faced lie about the reasons behind that decision — is that we bloggers will have fodder for days. Thanks, Komen. Thanks for being sneaky and deceitful and for showing your true colors. If I weren’t so sad by the fracas and the potential to help so many that has been so foolishly pissed away, I might be grateful. But I’m not grateful. Even though it’s nice to have a definitive answer on this organization’s true motive, and it’s nice to know for sure that Komen is not what it claims to be, I’m not grateful. I’m mad. And anyone who knows me will tell you that once I get mad, I stay mad. For a long time.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I sure wish Komen would have just been honest about its motivations to drop PP in the grease. The fact that Komen continues to hide behind the travesty of an ongoing “investigation” instead of coming clean about its reason for breaking with PP sickens me. Komen founder and chief executive Nancy Brinker continued the lie in a news conference yesterday, saying that SGK’s decision to pull its funds from PP has nothing to do with politics or abortion.

Raise your hand if you believe one word that comes out of this woman’s mouth. 

Here’s the thing — I don’t care if Komen wants to pull its funds from PP. I disagree with the wisdom of that decision, but Komen certainly has the right to do what it wants with its money. But don’t lie to me.

For Brinker, and by extension SGK, to continue to say that the decision to pull out of PP resulted from changes to the grant-making procedure makes me sick. She said in her press conference, “We think this is the right thing to do from a stewardship standpoint.”

Maybe Brinker thinks the general public is too dumb to see right through this. Sorry, Brinker, but I’m not stalled by your rhetoric, by your multi-syllabic alliteration.

I’m also onto the fact that Brinker’s assertion directly conflicts with SGK board member John Raffaelli, who spoke about this ugly issue to The New York Times and said, and I quote, that SGK made changes to that grant-making policy specifically to end its relationship with Planned Parenthood. From The Times:

“Raffaelli said that Komen had become increasingly worried that an investigation of Planned Parenthood by Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, would damage Komen’s credibility with donors.”

Guess what, Nancy Brinker: you didn’t need to worry one bit about Stearns’s trumped-up, bogus witch-hunt of an “investigation” damaging Komen’s credibility with donors. YOU DID THAT ALL BY YOURSELF.

Really, wouldn’t it have been easier to come clean? To be honest? To tell the truth, which is that Brinker and SGK no longer wanted a business relationship with PP because of a difference in political views? To that end, can someone please explain to me how not one word has been uttered by SGK about its 5-year, $7.5 million research grant to Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center? Last I heard, the sexual-assault scandal at Penn State involving Scumbag of the Year Jerry Sandusky involved a federal investigation of the university. How can 40 counts of sexual abuse over a 15-year period be ok, while a mere 3 percent of PP’s services being dedicated to terminating unwanted pregnancy is worthy of an epic break-up? The hypocrisy is staggering.

Also staggering is news that local Komen affiliates were not told of the break with PP. Betsy Kamin, president of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Houston, told The Houston Chronicle “The affiliates were not made aware of it [the decision] in advance, so it was shocking to us.”

The local Planned Parenthood president and CEO Peter Durkin had something to say about the decision, too: “As a leading health care provider in our community, Planned Parenthood is trusted to help women identify breast cancer early. We are deeply alarmed that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure from a vocal minority.” He went on to say that the Gulf Coast Planned Parenthood was “deeply disappointed” with Komen’s decision.

He’s not alone.

Mollie Williams, SGK’s top health official, resigned from SGK over this. Williams, the director of community health programs for SGK and in charge of deciding how to allocate $93 million in Komen grants to more than 2,000 community-health organizations said, “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.” So the person in charge of handing out Komen’s money–who definitively knows who is worthy of receiving those funds–disagrees strongly enough with the decision to end the relationship with PP. Not just that, she disagrees strongly enough to quit her job. Wow.

According to The New York Times, Dr Kathy Plesser, a New York City radiologist and member of Komen’s scientific advisory board, said she would resign if Komen did not reverse its decision. “I strongly believe women need access to care, particularly underserved women,” Dr Plesser said. “My understanding is that by eliminating this funding, it will jeopardize the women served by Planned Parenthood in terms of breast care.” Dr Plesser went on to say, “Komen is a wonderful organization and does tremendous things for women, but this is straying from their mission, and it’s sad.”

 All 7 of California’s SGK affiliates are “strongly opposed” to the decision, and the top official for SGK California joined Williams in resigning from the organization. Those affiliates are working hard to overturn Komen’s decision. So far, 26 U.S. Senators have called on SGK to reconsider its decision, saying that “it would be tragic if any woman . . . lost access to these potentially lifesaving services because of a politically motivated attack.” I suspect this is only the beginning.

The Race for the Cure, which is SGK’s most iconic fundraiser, is on the endangered species list. The very first Race for the Cure was in 1983 in Dallas with 800 participants. Last year, there were 130 races worldwide with 1.6 million participants, according to Komen’s website.

The Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed Kivi Leroux Miller, a North Carolina-based consultant on nonprofit marketing strategies, who said Komen was “naive” to think it could distance itself from the abortion debate while doing the very thing that antiabortion Senate Republicans have been trying to do – defund Planned Parenthood. Naive and egotistical, IMHO.

“Komen has forever changed the way people will look at them,” Miller said. “Until now, they have successfully stayed out of controversial areas of women’s health care. They kept the message simple: save lives, race for the cure, pink ribbons. They’ve forever muddied that now. They’ve made it hard for women to figure out what they’re about – and that makes it harder to raise money.”

I know one Race for the Cure participant who won’t be forking out $40 to enter Houston’s 2012 race. That makes me sad, because last year’s race was a lot of fun. And if any of my crew plans to participate in an upcoming Race for the Cure (should there be any), don’t bother writing my name on the “In Celebration Of” pink sheet. Thanks but no thanks. I don’t need Komen to help me celebrate my survivorhood.

Don't bother

Komen’s decision has taken center stage — in the news, on the Web, in the blog-o-sphere, and in the twitterverse. It was front-page news in my newspaper today, and probably in those of every other major city. The Seattle Times features a great story today about a formerly dedicated Komen fundraiser, Celeste McDonell. A Seattle lawyer and breast cancer survivor, McDonell labels herself as a “longtime, passionate Komen advocate.” She’s raised serious funds for the cause, too, by spearheading a “Row for the Cure” event that in 10 years has raised more than half a million dollars for her local Komen affiliate. Last year alone she raised $84,000 in her event. McDonell’s law firm had just committed to sponsor the next “Row” fundraiser, but has put that on hold, she said. Instead, a commitment has been made to Planned Parenthood. “Our firm is a strong believer in social justice and thought this was a move that needed to be made,” McDonell said.

McDonell’s story is but one in a crowded field of former supporters who are now protesting Komen’s decision.

The American Association of University Women has cancelled plans to offer a Komen Race for the Cure as one of the activities at its upcoming National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). Stating that the AAUW is “disappointed with the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to strip funding for cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood,” the AAUW will not offer the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure as a community service opportunity at its NCCWSL. For 27 years, college women from across the nation have attended the NCCWSL, but this year there will be no Race for the Cure.

Oh Komen. Komen, Komen, Komen.

You sure stepped in it this time.

I can understand the pressure. I can understand being torn. I can understand the desire to do the right thing (yet missing so spectacularly). But I can’t understand the dishonesty. I can’t fathom why SGK didn’t just say that after 5 years of partnership with PP, we’ve decided to go in a different direction. I can’t wrap my head around why Komen had to lie to me.

 

 

 


I Stand with Planned Parenthood

“The nation’s leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates—creating a bitter rift, linked to the abortion debate, between two iconic organizations that have assisted millions of women.”

That’s a great lead from the Associated Press.

Too bad it’s attached to such a sorry story.

When I first heard the news, I resisted the urge to blog, knowing that my anger at Komen would create a flaming piece full of emotional ranting. Today is marginally better, and while this piece is sure to be full of anger at Komen, hopefully it won’t be too flaming.

I’m certain that much was written about this topic yesterday by my fellow pink ribbon gals in the blog-o-sphere. I’m equally certain that their writings are eloquent, thoroughly researched, and well-thought-out.

Mine, not so much. I’m writing off the cuff and emotionally. I’m mad. No, wait — I’m pissed. I’m disgusted. I’m disappointed. I’m sad. I’m upset.

This story weighed on my mind all day yesterday, and I specifically resisted the urge to read every story I could find. I’m not usually good at walking away from a fight, just so you know.

That Komen would end its alliance with Planned Parenthood is bad enough. That Komen is walking away because of political BS makes me sick.

I’ll be writing a scathing letter to Rep. Cliff Stearns in Florida to tell him what a jackass idiot narrow-minded pork chop I think he is. I have no illusions that he’ll actually read it, but it will make me feel better.

Before I launch into it, let me be clear about one thing: this blog is not intended to promote either a pro-choice or an anti-abortion position. This blog is intended to highlight the atrocity of hiding behind that position and thereby compromising PP’s ability to provide breast health to the very women who need it most.

Ok, here’s the story: Stearns, aka jackass idiot narrow-minded pork chop, got his panties in a wad and launched an official inquiry into PP to see if public funds have been used to pay for abortions.

Since Stearns has neither a uterus nor a pair of ovaries, I can’t for the life of me fathom why he’d stick his nose into this issue, but people do idiotic, narrow-minded things every day.

Unfortunately, he is the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s investigative subcommittee, and he has the power to conduct a witch-hunt under the guise of public service. Apparently this goes back to Republican lawmakers’ failure to defund PP during federal budget negotiations last year. Since they couldn’t inflict their hack job then, they want to do it now, and it seems that Komen is along for the ride.

Stearns has demanded that PP cough up “internal audits conducted from 1998 to 2010; state-level audits going back 20 years; copies of policies certifying that federal dollars are not co-mingled in programs that fund abortions; and procedures for reporting crimes such as statutory rape, sexual abuse and suspected sex trafficking.” Oh, and he wants it on his desk in two weeks.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said that PP will comply with Stearns’s request in a timely manner, “despite the clear political motivation” of the investigation. The fact is that PP is regularly audited by the Department of Health and Human Services and is found to be in compliance with federal law. Richards asserts that PP “only uses taxpayer money to help low-income patients afford preventative health care and family-planning services.”

For 95 years, PP has provided healthcare worldwide. PP bills itself as a “commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning.” Yet Stearns and Komen want to tear it down because of politics. Sick. Richards went on to say that “at a time when American people need jobs, some members of Congress are instead misusing political power to go after health care access for the most vulnerable women in this country, and that’s a shame.”
It is indeed a shame. Sounds like Stearns wants to bury PP in paperwork. And the issue isn’t women’s breast health — and the potential to save lives from the vicious beast that is breast cancer — but Stearns’s anti-abortion stance. PP receives some $360 million a year from the federal government for women’s health services, and PP maintains that none of that money is used for abortions. Abortions account for only 3 percent of PP’s services, and they are paid for out of pocket by the patients. So what about the other 97 percent of PP’s services?

Yes, PP provides abortions. And yes, abortion is a terrible thing for any woman to face. And yes, it certainly is preferable to have healthy babies born into loving families with the means to care for that child. But in the real world, it doesn’t always work that way. For Stearns and Komen to abandon PP for one politically-motivated, emotionally-volatile issue is cowardly. PP is about more than birth control. Way more. I sure wish Stearns could see that.

Komen insists that the decision to give PP the shaft was not political. Baloney. According to The New York Times, Komen called its break with Planned Parenthood “regrettable,” but added that “we must continue to evolve to best meet the needs of the women we serve and most fully advance our mission.”

AND WHAT EXACTLY IS THAT MISSION, KOMEN???

Pardon the shouting. I have very little patience for bullshit.

If Komen really wanted to meet the needs of the women it serves, it would continue funding PP and the important work done by PP affiliates all over this country. And if Komen really wanted to break from PP because of the abortion issue, just come out with it. I’d have a lot more respect for the organization if it was honest. But it’s not, and PP–along with the women under its umbrella — will suffer because of it. Women who can ill afford more suffering. To wit, if a couple, such as the one I am a part of, with 4 college degrees between them and a good-paying job with comprehensive health-care benefits struggles to meet the demands of a breast cancer diagnosis, what hope does a single woman have? Or a married woman who happens to be low-income? Or inadequately educated? That’s where PP comes in, and does a tremendous service to women facing a breast cancer diagnosis.

As stated on its website, this move means that “at immediate risk are low-income women, many located in rural and underserved communities, served by 19 Planned Parenthood programs funded by the Komen Foundation. This funding has enabled designated Planned Parenthood health centers to provide women with breast health education, screenings, and referrals for mammograms — lifesaving care for women where Planned Parenthood is their only source of health care.”

Both Stearns and Komen are being sharply criticized for this bone-headed move. Stearn’s peers are fuming, and Komen is taking a beating in the social media outlets. Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Diana DeGette of Colorado joined forces and  wrote a letter to Stearns expressing their opposition to his investigation, which they say is “unwarranted” and “designed to harass and shut down an organization simply because Republicans disagree with the work that it does.”

“We are aware of no predicate that would justify this sweeping and invasive request to Planned Parenthood,” Waxman and DeGette wrote in the letter. “It would be an abuse of the oversight process if you are now using the Committee’s investigative powers to harass Planned Parenthood again. Your fervent ideological opposition to Planned Parenthood does not justify launching this intrusive investigation.”

There is a call for Stearns to reconsider the investigation and find more productive ways to use the subcommittee’s resources, such as examining private health insurers who are under-reporting drug manufacturer rebates, or re-examining food safety.

Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Jackie Speier, both of California, criticized Stearns and revoked their support for Komen yesterday. Boxer said, “I was perplexed and troubled to see the decision by Susan G. Komen for the Cure to cut off funding for life-saving breast cancer screenings through Planned Parenthood because of a political witch hunt by House Republicans. I truly hope that they will reconsider this decision and put the needs of women first.” Speier added her opinion on the House floor, saying, “I have been a big booster of the Susan G. Komen organization, but not anymore.”  One of Komen’s own affiliates withdrew its support as well. The Connecticut affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure said in a statement on Wednesday that it “shares” people’s frustration over the decision and that it will continue funding Planned Parenthood of New England. Yeah! Rock on!

Komen and Stearns and their ilk need to hear the message loud and clear that regardless of one’s position on abortion, it is wrong to politicize women’s health. To politicize low-income and underserved women’s health is even more egregious. Check out this Polipulse poll of Komen’s decision to abandon PP.

The vast majority of people who are talking about this issue online think it’s wrong, and Stearns and Komen need to hear that. Ironically, since Komen severed ties with PP, money has been pouring in to PP.  Fellow Texans Lee & Amy Fikes donated $250,000 to PP for a “Breast Health Emergency Fund,” and the hope is that donations to PP will match or surpass the roughly $680,000 it received from Komen in 2011. Keep hope alive, because by yesterday afternoon, PP announced that it had received $400,000 from some 6,000 individual donors since Komen left. PP spokesperson Tait Sye issued this statement: “Politics should not get in the way of women’s health, and people respond powerfully when they see politics interfering with women’s health. The donations send a message to stand up to bullying and protect access to health care.”

Equally promising is that PP saw a spike in appointments for breast examinations yesterday. “The silver lining is that more people than ever are aware that Planned Parenthood provides breast exams, and we’re seeing more people calling us today to make an appointment,” Sye said.
So there, Komen. Take that, Stearns.
If you too are sickened by organizations and politicians interfering with women’s health, say so. Demand better. Click here to sign the open letter in support of PP. It costs nothing but makes a statement. Click here to take it a step further and donate to PP. Click here to tell Cliff Stearns he’s way off base with his underhanded, dishonest investigation. If that letter is worded too strongly for your taste, write your own and send it here, straight to Stearns’s homepage. Click here to send a message to Komen.