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Susan G Komen Removes Reason for Planned Parenthood Defunding

CNN and other news sites are reporting that Susan G Komen has changed the policy under which Planned Parenthood lost its funding, stopping short of actually stating that funding will be forthcoming in the future.  Their statement begins with an apology and talks about how the wording of the policy will be changed to reflect only investigations that are criminal in nature.  When WashPo asked for further clarification whether Planned Parenthood would actually be funded in the future, they received no further information, only that “I think our statement speaks for itself.”

I do think it speaks volumes, just not the clear message I would expect to follow an apology to the public — an apology that addresses the section of the public who are upset over Planned Parenthood’s defunding.  If you look carefully, it doesn’t say that Planned Parenthood will be receiving funding in the future, just that they’ll be eligible to apply.  And in that case, they can be rejected for some other reason.

There are obviously positive ways to look at this week: People were suddenly reminded to do their monthly breast exams or make an appointment at Planned Parenthood.  People donated a lot of money to both organizations.  This apology may truly be the end of this debacle, and maybe Komen will be careful in the future about mixing themselves with politics and instead remain an organization aiming to fund cancer research and support women instead of an organization attempting to push a political agenda.  Or maybe it will just be dormant for a period of time like the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets and then be released again at a future date.

I’m not a fan of apologies which are not heartfelt, deeply meaningful apologies.  I have high standards, and this doesn’t meet my high standards.  So I thank the organization for giving this thought, but for me, the damage has been done and I need something much bigger than this to trust again.  I’m aware that others respectfully disagree with me on this, and I’m totally supportive of that too.  It’s a great big world full of organizations that have the potential to do good.  I’m going to directly support those that provide services, and others can support philanthropies who decide the fate of those service organizations with their grants.  To each their own.


1 Rachel { 02.03.12 at 12:04 pm }

I’m glad they are changing their poorly-written tune, but the damage is done. Is Ms. Handel staying on? I can’t imagine the fall-out from this…I’m sure they are all grateful it is Friday!

Thanks for your coverage on this situation, Mel! xo

2 Kristin { 02.03.12 at 12:15 pm }

While I am glad the policy has been clarified, like you I think their pseudo-apology is too little, too late.

3 Keiko { 02.03.12 at 12:23 pm }

I took a step back from this yesterday and thought about this purely from a marketing perspective. Even if they reneged, there was no way they could come out of this all pink ribbon rainbows and sunshine. From a totally fiscally driven marketing/PR perspective, they fucked up good.

I mean think about it: even though they may have kowtowed to their conservative membership/pressure, to suddenly take any position that even indicates a potential for reversal, it sends a message that maybe they’re not as solid in their mission/vision/morals as everyone assumes they are. It’s flip-flopping, plain and simple. And America hates flip-floppers.

And they can parade out this “rewording of regulations/review policy” all they like – it doesn’t change the fact that SGK has sent a clear message – on top of enough of their previous marketing/pinkwashing controversies – that they care more about high level donor dollars than actually serving the full spectrum of women’s health.

Now is the time for the American Heart Association to jump all over this shit and really change the culture of color from pink to red, what with heart disease being THE leading killer of women in the US. Hooray for Wear Red Day today 🙂

4 Tigger { 02.03.12 at 12:49 pm }

I agree that the damage had been done. SGK has been seen as being willing to bend to political pressure, their head person is extremely political, and now they’ve reversed their decision because of public pressure – or at least put up the facade of reversal. They cannot be trusted.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about SGK in the last day or so and have realized: they’re not as great as we think they are. They don’t send nearly the money to research that they should – 24% of their donations that come in. That’s it. They spend 20% on fundraising and administration. Guess where the rest goes? Not to a cure. Just like everything else, if a cure WAS discovered, there’d be no reason for them. And they don’t really care about a cure, I don’t think – they have sold things with known carcinogens, which just perpetuates cancer and thus keeps them in business. Source: http://www.salon.com/2012/02/01/komen_for_the_cure_sells_out_women_again/singleton/

I am really disappointed in them to learn this stuff.

5 Anjali { 02.03.12 at 2:36 pm }

I totally agree, Mel. I will never trust them again. I will never give to them again.

The damage has been done. Their apology is insincere.

6 jjiraffe { 02.03.12 at 3:51 pm }

I agree with you. This lukewarm apology is not enough, and why hasn’t Handel been fired in the wake of that truly awful tweet?

It’s all so disappointing. Thanks for shining the spotlight on this.

7 Natalie { 02.03.12 at 7:47 pm }

Love the basilisk comment! Great coverage of this topic, I agree with you completely!

8 Emmy { 02.04.12 at 1:23 am }

I agree with everything you’ve posted on the topic. For me, damage has been done and I don’t know that it can be undone.

One thought that has crossed my mind is how much more awareness this brought to breast cancer than any of those dumb facebook memes. At least there’s that.

9 Jen { 02.04.12 at 4:11 am }

I am pro-choice. Yet, I don’t feel upset by the foundation’s original decision. It seems like people dance around the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortions. Pretending that this is not a facet of their organization and that money within an organization does not intermix appears false to me. If a private organization wants to defund them, that is their choice. Donors can consider this when choosing who to give their money to. To cave into pressure that is more about liberal v conservative media battles seems spineless. That actually upsets me more than their original decision. If you have a principal, stand by it. ….just my humble opinion of course. 🙂

10 Katie { 02.04.12 at 3:03 pm }

Amen. It’s too little, too late. I think I would have had more respect for them if they’d stuck with their original decision instead of succumbing to outside pressure – again. I didn’t give to Komen before this, and I certainly won’t now – but neither will the pro-life supporters who are frustrated with the flip flop. A disappointing situation all around.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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