Not the story you thought you’d ever read about Susan G. Komen for the Cure, one of the most noted and respected nonprofits out there. But the other day, it was announced that the organization is cutting funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates, which could leave many women without access to breast exams. Last year, Susan G. Komen (SGK) provided $680,000 in grants to Planned Parenthood groups.
Coverage of issue indicates that SGK made the policy change under pressure from anti-abortion groups and members of Congress. Yesterday, the organization’s founder and CEO, Nancy G. Brinker made the video above to explain why the money has been cut.
“We will never bow to political pressure,” Brinker says. While the eligibility standards for funding might be more “stringent,” Brinker maintains that the new rules will make more money available for the programs the organization supports.
An SGK spokesperson, Leslie Aun, told the AP that funding had been pulled based on a rule that prohibits grants to organizations under investigation by authorities at any level. (Mother Jones argues that Penn State also falls on the wrong side of this policy.) Planned Parenthood is being investigated by Congress about whether public funds were used for abortions. Both organizations have been the target of anti-abortion protests for a long time, Planned Parenthood, even more so.
Planned Parenthood said yesterday that it raised $400,000 in mere hours after it announced a separate breast cancer fund meant to make up for the Susan G. Komen shortfall. And today we have word that New York Mayor (and billionaire) Michael Bloomberg will be donating $250,000 to Planned Parenthood. (SGK says its donations have leaped also.)
“Breast cancer screening saves lives and hundreds of thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for access to care. We should be helping women access that care, not placing barriers in their way,” he said.
That’s a sentiment shared by one of SGK’s leaders, who joined two others in announcing their resignation over the issue. Other members of Congress have actually reached out to Brinker to ask for a change.
In a way, this crisis speaks to the good work that SGK has done over the years. Through its fundraisers, programs, and iconic pink ribbons, it has brought awareness to the disease and the raised the level of fervor people feel for fighting it. Anything that obstructs the path to a breast cancer-free future will now generate furious indignation.
At this point, SGK is facing a PR nightmare that media outlets are saying could undo the brand. Despite the video the new policy was clearly created for the expressed purpose of severing the relationship. Folks are taking to the organization’s social media pages and on to Twitter to express their anger. In the meantime, support for Planned Parenthood has skyrocketed.
Slate has a wish list of items that would’ve served as crisis aversion tools as well. Among them, redirect funding to others to make up for the Planned Parenthood facilities that no longer receive funding. Waggener Edstrom CEO and SGK supporter Melissa Waggener Zorkin shares her perspective on the situation here.
SGK failed to take a stand on behalf of the women that it fights for and the people (men and women) who fight for it. Now we all lose.